Because the Patriots are in a position to find their next franchise quarterback, or at least a bridge player, until they do, they continue to be connected to some of the top pending free agents this offseason.
Several rumors have suggested they go after Kirk Cousins, who most believe will unlikely return to Minnesota in 2024. There have also been talks of them being a great fit for Ryan Tannehill, who was seemingly replaced by rookie Will Levis last season. But now that Jerod Mayo has hired his next offensive coordinator, they are in the discussion to land a more under-the-radar quarterback who has shown improvement over the last few seasons.
And who might that be? Baker Mayfield.
The former first-overall pick in the 2018 draft has had a roller coaster of a career so far, spending last season on his fourth team in just six seasons. After bringing success to the forever-doomed Browns, he asked for a trade once they brought in Deshaun Watson, which they obliged by sending him to the Panthers.
His tenure in Carolina also ended with a trade request, which sent him out to the Rams before ultimately signing with the Buccaneers for the 2023 season.
Mayfield will now test free agency, although most believe he will return to Tampa Bay after bringing the team to the playoffs in his first season. However, there is speculation about the quarterback's connection to the Patriots' new offensive coordinator, Alex Van Pelt, who called the plays in Cleveland when he was still there.
Because those were two of his best seasons with the team, Mayfield could entertain moving to New England to reunite with his former OC, a scenario that Bernd Buchmasser of Pats Pulpit believes is a possibility now.
"Mayfield staying in Tampa Bay seems likely after what was a bounce-back season for him in 2023. However, if the Patriots want to bring him aboard they would have the resources to do so and now an offensive coordinator who has experience with him.
While the Browns decided to ship him off when Deshaun Watson became available, he did play some solid football under Van Pelt in 2020 and 2021. Starting 32 combined regular season and playoff games, he completed 602 of 975 passes (61.7%) for 7,040 yards with 47 touchdowns and 22 interceptions."
Of the veteran quarterbacks that will be available next month, many Patriots fans have liked the idea of Mayfield signing with the team the most. Perhaps it's his age and improvements in the last few years that they find the most appealing, especially since Robert Kraft made it clear he wants the team to succeed again.
But of the options they'll have, if Mayo decides to go with the bridge QB route, Mayfield should definitely be at the top of the list to consider.