With the Tom Brady era in the rearview mirror and no heir apparent on their roster, the Patriots may have all but relegated themselves to a rebuilding year in 2020.
The team reportedly “sniffed around” former Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen before he was dealt Monday to the Redskins for a 2020 fifth-round pick, according to Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer.
Adding another backup-caliber quarterback like the 24-year-old Allen to the Patriots’ menagerie of backup-caliber quarterbacks — Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler — would have been a peculiar move, especially in light of the more prominent options on the market. Jameis Winston and Cam Newton are both jobless, and Bengals’ Andy Dalton could be a trade target.
Allen got off to a hot start in 2019 and won his first four games in relief of an ailing Cam Newton. However, eight of his nine final appearances resulted in losses, and Allen tossed 10 touchdowns and a whopping 16 interceptions in that span. He finished the season with 3,322 yards, 17 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and a 62.0 completion percentage.
The simple explanation is the Patriots are strapped for cash and cannot afford to pursue a bigger-name quarterback. They are carrying almost $23 million in dead cap money for players no longer on their team, according to ESPN, over half of which was Brady’s parting gift to New England: a 2020 dead cap hit of $13.5 million.
However, Breer also suggests the Patriots’ plan could revolve around going cheap at quarterback in order to build up other parts of the roster. A lack of talent at the skill positions was a major reason for the Patriots’ late-season struggles, which included an early playoff exit against the Titans.
Allen, an undrafted free agent, earned $888,378 including incentives in 2019 and will earn $675,000 in salary for 2020, which pales in comparison to the contracts the other high-profile quarterbacks would demand. In 2019, Newton earned $16.7 million and Winston earned $20.9 million.
The Patriots freed up $3.48 million in cap space with the release of kicker Stephen Gostowski on Monday, but that still leaves them with the fifth-highest cap hit in the league. Head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft will likely have to spend the year finding ways to invest in young talent and put themselves in a more advantageous financial position going into 2021.
Absent another quarterback addition in free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft, the Patriots will likely to turn to Stidham come September. The Patriots selected the 23-year-old Auburn product in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He appeared in mop-up duty in three games, completing two of four pass attempts for 14 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.