The New England Patriots will be without Tom Brady for the first four games of this season, and there are rumors that Bill Belichick might turn to an unlikely star as an insurance policy.
As word began circulating that Brady would likely face a substantial suspension for his role in the team intentionally deflating game balls, many speculated that the team could sign a veteran quarterback to serve as insurance for the unproven second-year Jimmy Garoppolo.
The NFL announced Monday that Brady would be suspended for four games, the same length as a first-time instance of performance-enhancing drug use. While Brady’s agent has already announced that he plans to appeal, the Patriots are now looking at starting the season without the reigning Super Bowl MVP.
The only other quarterback on the team’s roster is Garrett Gilbert, who, like Garoppolo, is 23-years-old. The Patriots have been high on Garoppolo’s abilities and appear to be grooming him to be Tom Brady’s successor, but Bill Belichick is likely to look for a veteran to play backup and provide a steady hand if Garoppolo falters.
As Pro Football Talk notes, that veteran could end up being free agent Michael Vick.
“Most teams have more than three quarterbacks on the roster during the offseason anyway, so it’s very unlikely that the Patriots would stick with only three quarterbacks if one of them, Brady, is going to be suspended. Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston floats the name of longtime Packers backup Matt Flynn as a possible free agent signing. Other veteran quarterbacks available include Michael Vick, Jason Campbell and Tarvaris Jackson.”
Belichick would likely be familiar with Michael Vick, who played behind Geno Smith on the New York Jets for the past two seasons. While Vick — or another veteran the Patriots might sign — would likely not push for the starting role, Belichick would need to be comfortable with the decision, and Vick might be the best fit.
Time is also important. The Patriots have already started offseason exercises, so the team would likely want to get a new quarterback in as quickly as possible to learn Belichick’s offense and build chemistry with other players.
The New England Patriots rumors regarding Michael Vick might not seem all that far-fetched. Belichick has a reputation for taking a chance on players, and in the past has signed Tim Tebow for training camp and had aging veteran Doug Flutie backing up Brady in 2005.
[Image via Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann]