This post kicks off our series leading up to Draft Day evaluating the Patriots' needs and prospective strategies at each position on the roster. Today, we're starting with quarterbacks.
Obviously, with Tom Brady coming back, the role of starter is presumably filled. At the very least, he will be given quite a long time to make a comeback, and I don't foresee anyone else having a realistic shot at the starting spot. I also think it should be Brady's position to lose.
However, with the trade of Matt Cassel, the Patriots obviously need a backup. They have, in recent history, had great luck with their backup QBs, from Tom Brady himself to the highly professional Damon Huard to Cassel, who proved himself starting-caliber last year.
This offseason, the Patriots have a few possibilities in both free agency and the draft to try to continue that streak and fill the backup spot. As Brent mentioned yesterday, a potential draft solution to the backup QB problem, Pat White, was brought in by the Patriots for a workout this week. The senior at West Virginia University is not only a serviceable quarterback, but has also put in time at running back and wide receiver. The same football team that has employed Troy Brown must like the prospect of that--even if he rides the pine as a backup QB, he could potentially be put to work elsewhere.
Meanwhile, in free agency, there's Patrick Ramsey, whom the Boston Globe's Mike Reiss reported was also brought in by the Patriots for a visit in early March. Ramsey was jerked around for a while by Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins, going from backup to starter to backup again, before heading to the Bears and the Jets, who released him last fall. Since this isn't a position of glaring need for the Patriots, I don't underestimate the appeal to Bill Belichick of simply getting some inside info from a former player for the hated rival.
But between the big defensive needs and ongoing Julius Peppers intrigue, not to mention the salary-cap drama that could follow a Peppers signing vis a vis Wilfork and Seymour, I don't think the Patriots should waste a draft pick on this. A more veteran presence as a backup QB would be a nice to have, but the team also shouldn't spend overmuch--there's already Kevin O'Connell, whom you might remember being suggested as a replacement for Cassel even last season. Personally, I'd be just as happy to see O'Connell move up the depth chart--like Brady and Cassel before him, he's already been raised in the system.