It has been a rough week for New Englanders. The NHL and NBA have both suspending play due to the Coronavirus, with the Bruins on top of the NHL and the Celtics sitting comfortably in a playoff spot.
Most people have been forced to stay inside, with only grocery stores and pharmacies staying open for business, and it only got worse when Patriots fans woke up to the news this morning of Tom Brady officially declaring his intent to leave New England in free agency.
This is a tough blow for the Patriots, considering second year QB Jarrett Stidham now sits atop the QB depth chart with no suitable replacement in reach. Both Teddy Bridgewater and Marcus Mariota have already decided to sign with the Panthers and Raiders in free agency.
The only potential day 1 starters that are still on the board are Philip Rivers and Jameis Winston, but both QBs will command $25-30 million a year. The Patriots were unwilling to pay Brady, so I find it highly unlikely that New England will offer a deal like that to Rivers or Winston.
The Carolina Panthers are now exploring a trade with Cam Newton, but the issue with that is Cam is coming off a serious injury and would need to pass a physical before a trade is agreed upon. With NFL team personnel being pulled off the road and team facilities shutting down, it will be next to impossible to conduct a physical on Cam Newton.
This means that Andy Dalton becoming the starting QB for New England is inevitable. Every other option is off the table, so the Patriots will be forced to make a trade for the Cincinnati QB.
The good news for the Patriots is that the Bengals have an urgent need to get rid of Andy Dalton and his expiring contract, with Joe Burrow set to become the next franchise QB in Cincinnati. There is no need for the Bengals to hold on to Dalton's contract, so a trade has to happen.
Even better for New England is that there does not seem to be much interest around the league in Dalton, so the Patriots could very well be the only bidder. This could mean that Belichick could swoop in and land him for a third round pick.
The Chicago Bears seem uninterested in bringing Dalton in to compete with Mitchell Trubisky, and most other QB needy teams have already filled the void with a backup QB.
Andy Dalton is not an exciting QB by any means, but he is the best option available and could strive in a change of scenery and under a head coach that has stabilized the QB position for the last 20 years.
Trading for Dalton does not mean the 2020 season is lost, as this New England team went 12-4 last year, so they do have a good system in place. Bill Belichick was able to string together an 11-5 season under Matt Cassel in 2008, so I would not be surprised if the Patriots reign over a typically weak AFC East for a 12th year in a row, even with Andy Dalton at the helm of the New England offense.
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