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Could Brian Hoyer end up back in New England? (Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports)

So what happens with the Patriots at quarterback if Tom Brady is forced to sit for the first four games of the 2016 season? At this point on the calendar, Plan B is backup Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round pick out of Eastern Illinois who has seen limited action to this point in his career, but is maybe best described as solid at this point in his development.

But if the Patriots aren’t completely enamored with Garoppolo’s overall development or if they simply want to expand their depth at the position while waiting for Brady to return, they do have some other options. With the draft looming at the end of the week and a handful of bodies still available in free agency, here are a few possibilities for New England at the quarterback spot.

(One thing to remember: When the Patriots draft a quarterback or sign one as an undrafted free agent later this spring, it shouldn’t necessarily be seen as a wide-ranging referendum on Garoppolo. Only one team has drafted more quarterbacks since 1999 than New England, and that doesn’t even begin to take into account the various free agents — both undrafted and otherwise — that have been added to the Patriots’ roster over the years. Bottom line? They get a quarterback every spring. The context may have changed because of Monday’s announcement, but they’ll follow the same routine this time around.)

Brian Hoyer: The 30-year-old was signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State in 2009, and served as a backup to Brady from 2009-11. Along the way, he saw action in 13 games, going 27-for-43 (63 percent) with 286 passing yards and a touchdown. Hoyer has since played in Arizona, Cleveland and Houston, but was cut loose by the Texans earlier this offseason. In his career he’s made 26 starts, completed 58 percent of his passes for 7,163 yards to go along with 38 touchdown passes and 26 interceptions. His familiarity with the scheme and coaching staff, plus the fact that he’d come relatively cheaply, make him a legitimate option in this instance.

Ryan Fitzpatrick: You know he went to Harvard, right? The bearded one is still on the market because the Jets have been playing a game of high-stakes chicken with the 33-year-old, who has played for Buffalo, Cincinnati, St. Louis, Houston, Tennessee and the New York Jets over the course of his career. Last season in North Jersey, he completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,905 yards, to go along with 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. The chances here are extremely unlikely, as he’s likely looking for more security in the form of a long-term deal and a payday commensurate with his decent year last season.

Trade: Bill Belichick does have a handful of pals around the league who could be talked into a deal. That’s not to say that they’ll pull off a major heist, but when you take a look around the league at some of Belichick’s favorite trade partners and examine their quarterbacking depth charts, there are more than a few short-term possibilities to consider. For the record, since he took control of the Patriots in 2000, Belichick has made the most deals with Oakland and Chicago (9 each), followed New Orleans and Green Bay (7). Next, it’s Houston, Denver and Tampa Bay (6). But with former Patriots’ front office staffers in Detroit (Bob Quinn), Tennessee (Jon Robinson), Atlanta (Thomas Dimitroff) and Tampa Bay (Jason Licht), the possibilities certainly exist for the Patriots to try and make a deal for another signal caller.

Draft: As we said previously, the Patriots always go out and pursue a new quarterback every spring, either in the draft or free agency. And even though there’s now a perceived need for more backup quarterback depth, don’t expect them to deviate from one of their traditional team-building ideas. To that end, we have five late-round/undrafted possibilities here, a group that includes Navy’s Keenan Reynolds (who doesn’t project to be a quarterback in the NFL, but for purposes of our story, we’ll include him), Stanford’s Kevin Hogan, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Alabama’s Jake Coker and USC’s Cody Kessler.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

With Tom Brady now being suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season as the Second Circuit of Appeals reinstated Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate on Monday, Bovada has put out odds for the Patriots’ first four games of the season.

The Patriots should be just fine with Jimmy Garoppolo over the first four games. (Derick E.</p>
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Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy Garoppolo

With Tom Brady now being suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season as the Second Circuit of Appeals reinstated Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate on Monday, Bovada has put out odds for the Patriots’ first four games of the season.

It’s safe to say Vegas doesn’t believe in Jimmy Garoppolo, the player likely to take Brady’s place under center.

According to Bovada LV, the over/under for Patriots wins in the first four games of 2016 regular season if Brady does not start is 1.5.

New England travels to Arizona the first week of the season, but then hosts the Dolphins, Texans and Bills.

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

This was Donald Trump at a rally in Rhode Island mere minutes after the Second Circuit Court of Appeals lowered the boom on Tom Brady.

The NFLPA issued a statement Monday afternoon in the wake of the decision in the Deflategate appeal hearing:

“The NFLPA is disappointed in the decision by the Second Circuit. We fought Roger Goodell’s suspension of Tom Brady because we know he did not serve as a fair arbitrator and that players’ rights were violated under our collective bargaining agreement.

“Our Union will carefully review the decision, consider all of our options and continue to fight for players’ rights and for the integrity of the game.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Blog Author: 
WEEI

The NFL issued a statement Monday afternoon in the wake of their legal win in the Deflategate appeal hearing:

“We are pleased the United State Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled today that the Commissioner properly exercised his authority under the collective bargaining agreement to act in cases involving the Integrity of the game. That authority has been recognized by many courts and has been expressly incorporated into every collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFLPA for the past 40 years.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tom Brady's four-game suspension for Deflategate was reinstated. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for Deflategate was reinstated. (Andy Marlin/USA Today Sports)

1. This was a win for Roger Goodell on a number of levels, not the least of which is the fact that it reaffirms his spot as judge and jury under the most recent Collective Bargaining Agreement. According to the court, the decision was not about whether Brady’s was “generally aware” of what happened, only to determine whether or not the arbitration proceedings and award met the minimum six legal standards established by the Labor Management Relations Act. “We must simply ensure that the arbitrator was ‘even arguably construing or applying the contract and acting within the scope of his authority’ and did not ‘ignore the plain language of the contract.”

The decision continued: “In their collective bargaining agreement, the players and the League mutually decided many years ago that the Commissioner should investigate possible rule violations, should impose appropriate sanctions, and may preside at arbitrations challenging his discipline. Although this tripartite regime may appear somewhat unorthodox, it is the regime bargained for and agreed upon by the parties, which we can only presume they determined was mutually satisfactory.”

The 33-page ruling wraps up with this conclusion: “The parties contracted in the CBA to specifically allow the Commissioner to sit as the arbitrator in all disputes brought pursuant to Article 46, Section 1(a). They did so knowing full well that the Commissioner had the sole power of determining what constitutes ‘conduct detrimental,’ and thus knowing that the Commissioner would have a stake both in the underlying discipline and in every arbitration brought pursuant to Section 1(a). Had the parties wished to restrict the Commissioner’s authority, they could have fashioned a different agreement.”

Not sure I’ve ever seen a more plainly-worded defense of the most recent CBA as it relates to player discipline. While most CBA arguments over the years have centered around how to divide up the billion of dollars between the players and owners, you can be sure that the next time the CBA is up, player discipline and Goodell’s place as a disciplinarian will also be a major sticking point.

2. One thing that stands out here is the fact that it was a three-judge panel, and two of the judges — Barrington D. Parker and Denny Chin — ruled one way. Meanwhile Judge Robert Katzmann (the chief judge, as listed on the decision) ruled in favor of Brady and the league. While it can be seen as a victory for Goodell and the current CBA, the result was less than resounding.

Regardless, it appears that the court did not look kindly on the destruction of Brady’s cell phone, writing in part that “any reasonable litigant would understand that the destruction of evidence, revealed just days before the start of arbitration proceedings, would be an important issue. It is well established that the law permits a trier of fact to infer that a party who deliberately destroys relevant evidence the party had an obligation to produce did so in order to conceal damaging information from the adjudicator.”

3. The next step? Although it seems wildly unlikely, the possibility exists that Goodell could still reduce the four-game ban, or even rescind the punishment altogether and issue a fine instead. (Asked at the Super Bowl, Goodell wouldn’t confirm he would reinstate Brady’s suspension if NFL won appeal.) Given the history between the two sides, that seems like a long shot. There’s also the potential for Brady and the NFLPA to seek an injuction in the matter and request a rehearing before the full Second Circuit court. And as ridiculous as it sounds, the quarterback could continue this battle all the way to the Supreme Court.

4. One note as it relates to Brady’s per game salary. Per Spotrac, prior to signing his new deal in March, Tom Brady stood to forfeit $2,117,647 in salary for a 4 game suspension. He now loses just $235,294. It’s small consolation for the quarterback, but it’s still worth passing along.

5. At this point, from a practical personnel standpoint, everything basically reverts back to this time last year, where Brady’s fate for the first four games of the regular season was cast into limbo. That means the same questions remain — if Brady is unable to go for the first four games of the season, the Patriots would likely turn to Jimmy Garoppolo to face the Cardinals, Dolphins, Texans and Bills. (There’s also the possibility — although highly remote, from this viewpoint — that New England will find a serious challenger for Garoppolo with an eye toward grooming him as a starter for the first four games of the season. Former Patriots backup Brian Hoyer, who is available as a free agent, could be a possibility.) That will also inevitably start talk about how “vulnerable” New England is when it comes to its standing in the AFC, but the division as well. One thing that’s certainly in their favor is the fact that the Patriots play three of the four games at home, and those three home games came again teams that were a collective 22-26 last season. If Brady does sit, it’s a far more palatable option than the one New England would have faced if Brady sat out the first four games of the 2015 season.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Tom Brady’s four-game suspension due to Deflategate has been reinstated by the federal court. He will be suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season, as of now since Brady can appeal.

The NFL won by a 2-to-1 decision. Judge Parker and Chin sided with NFL, while Judge Katzmann dissented.