NFL Rumors: With Uncertainty Surrounding Tom Brady, Patriots Targeting Free Agent Quarterback

Bill Belichick runs on the field before an NFL game.
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The New England Patriots could be without Tom Brady for the first time in two decades, and a new report claims that the team is targeting a free-agent quarterback as something of a contingency plan if the future Hall of Famer were to bolt.

Brady’s contract is set to void, and he will soon test free agency for the first time in his career. With increasing indications that he may not return to New England, a new report from Pro Football Network claims that the Patriots are looking into soon-to-be free-agent quarterback Marcus Mariota as a potential replacement.

Mariota lost his starting job to Ryan Tannehill during the 2019 season, and reports indicate that the Tennessee Titans are ready to move on. Mariota would join a busy free agency class, but already seems to have caught the eye of the Patriots.

“Keep this in the back of your mind – with all the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady, the New England Patriots are showing interest in soon to be free agent quarterback Marcus Mariota,” Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network reported. “The former first-round pick is being courted by several teams who may have an open competition at quarterback. I’m told the Indianapolis Colts have also shown interest in Mariota – just in case.”

It is not clear if the Patriots would envision Mariota as a starter or if he would compete for the job. The 26-year-old former No. 2 overall pick has a career completion percentage of 62.9 and a passer rating of 89.6.

It also remains unclear what Brady plans to do when he becomes a free agent at the start of the new NFL league year on March 18. Brady cannot begin negotiations with teams until the tampering period starts on March 16, and reports indicate that as many as a dozen teams may have interest in him.

As ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported this week, Brady is going into free agency under the belief that he will be playing somewhere other than New England in 2020. The report added that the Patriots are expected to have the opportunity to make a pitch for Brady as well, and could have plans to add new weapons to make a run at one last Super Bowl for the 42-year-old quarterback. As The Inquisitr reported, the Patriots are believed to be interested in Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green, which would be a major boost to a receiving core that struggled in 2019 with getting open for Brady.