For the first time since 2001, the New England Patriots will begin their season with a starting quarterback not named Tom Brady.

But the Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick might have been comfortable moving on from Brady, not everyone is high on their outlook under center.

As things currently stand, it appears the Pats will give 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham the opportunity to start, and one executive said he believes Belichick and co. are comfortable employing a “flexible” quarterback situation (via Mike Sando of The Athletic):

“You never want to count them out, but it looks pretty grim now,” another exec said. “People liked Stidham coming out, so that will be interesting. I would think they are filling the roles they need on defense and they know the quarterback is going to make the offense go and they are not going to force it. They are not going to hamstring themselves with some player they do not love that they have to commit to. They would rather just be flexible with it, which is actually a similar approach to the one Miami is taking.”

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Some have speculated whether the Pats would consider signing former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback jameis winston or 2015 NFL MVP Cam Newton.

But this executive hinted the Patriots will not commit to a player merely to upgrade in the short term. Winston threw 30 interceptions last season, while Newton has been plagued by injuries and will turn 31 in May.

Perhaps the Pats roll with Stidham with the expectation he could struggle early. New England’s playoff chances will be mostly reliant on their defense, anyway, much like it was during the 2019 campaign.