There’s still no evidence Tom Brady will return to New England when NFL free agency begins March 18 and the Patriots must be prepared for life without him if he ultimately decides to sign with another team. Here’s some possible replacements that New England could sign in free agency or acquire via trade:

Andy Dalton:

Dalton will reportedly work with the Bengals on a trade that will land him at a destination that he prefers, and NFL Network Insider Ian Rapaport reported that he will be considered as a replacement for Brady if the Patriots’ are unable to resign the six-time Super Bowl Champion.

Dalton is a starting caliber quarterback who has nine years of experience in the AFC and can definitely benefit from the leadership and coaching savvy of Bill Belichick. Nonetheless, he has a career completion percentage of 62.6, and last year completed just 59.5% of his passes, third worst in the league. Yes, he can be a serviceable but it’s hard to replace a quarterback who is widely considered one of the greatest of all time with Dalton who is coming off the most dreadful year of his career. In 13 starts in the 2019 season, Dalton threw for 3,494 yards, 16 touchdowns and 14 interceptions with a career-low 78.3 passer rating. Although the “Red Rifle” may be available, he shouldn’t be the first choice on New England’s wish list.

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Teddy Bridgewater:

Most recently Bridgewater played valuable snaps for the Saints in the regular season to fill in for an injured Drew Brees and impressed critics with his accurate throwing ability and his intelligent decision making when faced with pressure in the pocket. In six starts for New Orleans, Bridgewater went 5-1 and compiled 1,384 passing yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions with a passer rating of 99.1 and a completion rate of 67.9%. At 27 years old, Bridgewater is the perfect quarterback for Belichick to mold into the Patriots’ system because of his longevity. Available as a free agent, Bridgewater has the opportunity to become New England’s quarterback of the future with a reasonable price tag.

Philip Rivers:

Rivers is 38 years old and coming off one of the toughest years of his career that saw the Chargers finish last with a 5-11 record. He was able to throw for over 4,000 yards for his seventh straight season but had the worst interception to touchdown ratio of his career (1.15) finishing with 23 TD passes and 20 interceptions. To Rivers’ defense, a league-leading seven of those came while his team was trailing with five minutes left in the game, according to ESPN. New England, however, can provide a better offensive line and a top defense to prevent Rivers from constantly having to play from behind. He is also one of the best in the league at adjusting protection and is highly praised for his scrupulous game preparation. If Rivers does end up in New England, it’s fair to say that Belichick will be the best head coach he’s ever played for and the Patriots will remain Super Bowl contenders.

Derek Carr:

Carr is coming off one his best seasons as a Raider and actually outperformed Brady when considering his career-high passer rating (100.8) and career-high completion percentage (70.4) that ranked second in the NFL behind Brees. Brady had his worst passer rating (88.0) since 2013 and actually completed a lesser percentage of throws (60.8) by a large margin. You could also argue that the 29-year-old had a worse supporting cast than Brady besides the running back position occupied by rookie sensation Josh JacobsIf he gets paired with Belichick and an elite defense via trade, there’s no doubt New England would be favorites to win the AFC East for years to come.


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