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The one ideal candidate in Patriots’ QB search, per Tedy Bruschi

Patriots, Cam Newton, Tedy Bruschi, Bill Belichick, Jimmy Garoppolo

The New England Patriots will likely be shopping for a starting quarterback this offseason.

Cam Newton — playing on a one-year deal — struggled for much of the 2020 season, while backup Jarrett Stidham has failed to seize the job at any point.

Former Patriots star and ESPN analyst Tedy Bruschi believes one potentially-available QB would be the best fit under center for New England in 2021: San Francisco 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo.

Bruschi cited Garoppolo’s experience playing in New England, and his understanding of the pressure that comes with following a legend.

“Any other quarterback, why do you want to follow Tom Brady?” Bruschi said on WEEI. “You’re always going to be compared to the successes and the past, and that is going to make it a tough job. That’s going to make it a job to where guys will come in, ‘I can’t live up to that.’ I think the pressure is higher than ever in New England in terms of who the next quarterback is going to be.

The retired linebacker also noted Garoppolo’s familiarity with the lofty expectations associated with playing for Bill Belichick.

“You better have some guts to join the Patriots,” Bruschi added. “I’ll tell you that right now because from Day 1 it is going to be like, ‘OK, we’re ready for a Super Bowl championship.’ And [that quarterback] will have to deliver because that’s what [Patriots fans] are used to here. I think Garoppolo knows that. I think Garoppolo could even say, ‘You know what, I can do it. I know how it’s done.’ To me, maybe that is the best option because of the amount of pressure the new guy is going to have. It’s going to be a hard, hard task.”

Belichick drafted Garoppolo in the second round (no. 62 overall) in the 2014 NFL Draft, and Garoppolo spent the first two-plus seasons of his career holding clipboards for Tom Brady. He went 2-0 as a starter in New England, but struggled to stay healthy, as has been the case in San Francisco.

Garoppolo, 29, remains under contract with San Francisco, and is owed about $48 million through the 2022 season. However, his deal includes an out clause after next season that could make him a trade candidate, should the Niners seek an upgrade.

The Patriots dealt Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round pick. He started Super Bowl LIV last February.

New England went 7-9 in 2020, finishing under .500 for the first time in two decades and missing the playoffs for the first time since 2008.