In a totally hypothetical scenario where Tom Brady retire in the next few months, who could replace him as the Patriots’ starter?
There are signs of discontent within the New England Patriots’ organization, with Bill Belichick on one side and Tom Brady on the other after his personal trainer was banned from the building. Retirement rumors have surrounded tight end Rob Gronkowski, but according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter Brady has not yet committed to playing the 2018 season.
As he has approached and now crossed 40 years old, retirement speculation around Brady is not new. His wife Gisele Bundchen has gone public with the idea she’d like him to retire, but stopping shy of saying she has demanded it. Even Schefter’s report adds the organization expects Brady to be back, and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe pointed to some anti-Belichick strategy being in play.
Brady has two years left on his contract, for what it’s worth. There’s a chance another Super Bowl win will bring retirement, but barring something unforeseen let’s mostly assume Brady is back this year and probably next.
But if Brady does happen to walk away, it’s fun to speculate on who would replace Brady as the Patriots starter in 2018. Here are five potential candidates to immediately replace the most decorated quarterback in league history.
5. Mason Rudolph
The Patriots were among the teams to work out or have Rudolph in for a visit earlier this month, and with the 23rd and 31st overall picks in the draft they may be out of the mix for the top-five quarterback prospects (Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, Josh Rosen, Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, in no particular order).
Playing in a college spread offense works as a black mark against a lot of quarterback prospects, and Rudolph is no different. But SB Nation’s Ian Boyd points to Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s system having some pro-style concepts that prepared Rudolph for the next level better than might be assumed.
With prototypical size (6-foot-5, 235 pounds), and underappreciated athleticism (4.9-second 40, 26-inch vertical jump at the NFL Combine), Rudolph may have a future as an NFL starter. If the Patriots take him with the second-to-last pick on Day 1 of the draft and Brady retires, we’ll find out if Rudolph has what it takes very quickly.