The race to replace Tom Brady just got a little more crowded.
After choosing not to draft a quarterback in this weekend’s NFL Draft, the New England Patriots wasted little time in adding another pair of signal-callers to the roster. As WEEI reported, the Patriots signed Michigan State quarterback Brian Lewerke and Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith as undrafted free agents on Saturday and Sunday.
As the report noted, Lewerke comes to the Patriots with an impressive resume that included the first quarterback in Michigan State history to throw for more than 8,000 yards and rush for more than 1,000.
“Lewerke was a three-year starter and captain the last two years,” the report noted. “His best year came this past fall when he completed 59.6 percent of his passes for 3,079 yards, 17 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.”
The USA Today’s Draft Wire noted that Lewerke showed plenty of promise after his redshirt sophomore season, but saw a bit of a downturn in his final two seasons and failed to top 60 percent completion percentage for any of his three seasons. The report noted that he was likely to make a roster as a third quarterback or practice squad arm.
Smith too is seen as a marginal prospect, with some shortcomings that included a disciplinary issue that led to him being suspended two games his senior season. Though the reason for the suspension was never made public, Smith offered an apology and said that he would stay out of trouble.
“I made a mistake at the end of the year, and I’ve grown from it. I’ve learned from it,” Smith said at the time, via Boston.com. “My circle has gotten smaller in trying to trust the people that’s been there for me the whole way.”
Smith actually has a connection to the Patriots, as his father was on the roster for two seasons in the late 2000s as a defensive lineman, though he did not play in any games.
While both Smith and Lewerke are projected as practice squad players, the Patriots could present them with one of the league’s best chances to play their way onto a roster. The team has no clear successor to Brady after his departure to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though some believe that 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham could be in line to move into the starting spot. Stidham earned the backup spot last season, which was seen as significant, as the 40-year-old Brady was less mobile and more prone to injury, meaning the backup could have moved into the starting role.