With only veteran clipboard holder Brian Hoyer (undrafted, 2009) on the roster, the Pats have a glaring need for a developmental project who can one day become the heir to Brady's throne. It makes logical sense for New England to add one signal-caller within the top three rounds of next month's NFL draft.
Owner Robert Kraft was asked this week during the Annual League Meeting this week if finding a QB in the draft was a priority for his team.
"I'm going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to," Kraft said, via ESPN's Mike Reiss. "Not just that, but think what happened in the '08 season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom [Brady] goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an 11-5 season? I put my faith and confidence in Bill [Belichick]. He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in [and is in] tip-top shape.
"Part of why the networks pay us the funding they do, and the reason this is the best entertainment product in America, is you don't know -- one play can change a whole season. One play with one person. To do a good job managing an NFL franchise, we've always said understanding quality depth management, that's our business."
Since Belichick took over the Patriots in 2000, he hasn't been shy about drafting quarterbacks. As Brady ages, those selections have come in higher rounds:
2016: Jacoby Brissett (3rd round) -- traded to Indianapolis in 2017.
2014: Jimmy Garoppolo (2nd round) -- traded to San Francisco in 2017.
2011: Ryan Mallett (3rd round) -- traded to Houston in 2014; spent past three years in Baltimore; current free agent
2010: Zac Robinson (7th round) -- released in 2010; never threw an NFL regular-season pass
2008: Kevin O'Connell (3rd round) -- waived in 2009; current Redskins QBs coach
2005: Matt Cassel (7th round) -- went 10-5 starting for Brady in 2008; traded to K.C. in 2009; spent 2017 in Tennessee; current free agent
2003: Kliff Kingsbury (6th round) -- waived in 2004; threw two passes for the Jets in 2005; current Texas Tech head football coach
2002: Rohan Davey (4th round) -- made seven relief appearances in three seasons; released in 2005
2000: Brady (6th round) -- GOAT
Brady's unprecedented MVP play at age 40 forced Belichick to make the difficult decision to ship Garoppolo to San Francisco, altering the well-crafted torch-passing plan.
Now the Patriots must start that search from scratch once again.