New England Patriots: Quarterback Free Agency Preview

Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 5, 2017; Houston, TX, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (10) prior to the game against the Atlanta Falcons during Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

NFL free agency is almost here, and we will take a look at how the New England Patriots are step up at the quarterback position going into the offseason.

The first positional grouping we will be looking at for the New England Patriots in free agency is the quarterback position. This preview will look into the available Free Agents and shortlist a few players that could fit in with the Patriots.

The caveat here is that we aren’t taking into account the upcoming draft. Basically we are answering the question “If the Patriots could only fill their roster with Free Agents, who would they be?” While I don’t think the Patriots will draft or sign a free agent to replace Ryan Allen at Punter (for example), we will treat it as if they were.

With that being said, let’s get down to it.

Quarterbacks under contract

Quarterbacks not under contract

  • None

While all the current quarterbacks remain under contract through the 2017 season, the very real, very large elephant in the room is Jimmy Garoppolo’s situation. The general school of thought here is that with one year left on his contract, that the Patriots will seek to trade him to any number of potential suitors, with the 49ers, Browns, Texans and the Bears being mooted as the favourites. This would then open up a roster spot for (at the very least) a “camp arm” if Garoppolo were traded before training camp starts.

If the Patriots think that despite his good play last year that Jacoby Brissett still is too raw to be a No.2 then the Pats might take a look to see what is out there rather than drafting more inexperience. What they should be looking for is a guy that will be looking to sign for very little money and will help to groom Brissett.

Free Agent Quarterbacks

  • Matt Cassel

    • It wouldn’t be the craziest thing in the world to see Cassel return to Foxborough after an eight-year absence. He is a guy who is familiar with the system and at the age of 34, is on the downward slope of his career. He has also spent time out of the league for periods in the last two seasons so he most likely won’t be a big salary cap hit.
  • Kellen Clemens

    • Clemens might be seen as a bit of a stretch as he is viewed as a mid-tier backup. What might go against him in the free agency market is that fact that he has only thrown ten passes in his last three years in San Diego. Clemens hasn’t much tread on his tires, (despite being 33 he has only started 21 games in 10 year career) and might be looking for a more lucrative deal where he is seen as a true no.2.
  • Shaun Hill

    • Hill is considered one of the best backups in the NFL but his weak arm has prevented him from being in the starter conversation. Last season when Teddy Bridgewater went down injured, Hill was the incumbent to replace him. Instead the Vikings traded the house for Sam Bradford. One might see this as an indictment on what the Vikings thought of Hill’s ability. I am convinced the league would have taken some notice of this. At the age of 37 he doesn’t have long left in his career but if the Patriots were to sign him, his knowledge and experience would be a valuable asset.
  • Dan Orlovsky

    • Dan Orlovsky has never really been able to shake the shameful 0-16 season that he had with the Detroit Lions in 2008. Since then, his only meaningful game time was for the Colts in their “Suck for Luck” 2011 campaign where he was part of the Quarterback rotation with Kerry Collins and Curtis Painter. Despite all this he does have a 15 TD -13 INT ratio and a decent career completion percentage (58%). Now that Matt Stafford is established in Detroit, the need for a veteran backup has diminished and a rookie could be brought in. With Orlovsky only earning only a million dollars last year (according to, he fits the bill of what the Patriots might be looking for.

Next: Ranking Patriots' Internal Free Agents


If the Patriots indeed do bring in a veteran backup, Shaun Hill would be the most talented of those likely to sign. However even at his age, he is still a valuable backup who earned a pretty penny last year in Minnesota (according to $3.2m to be exact). Matt Cassel would be the more realistic choice, and is the player that fits everything the Patriots would be looking for.