According to reports out of the Boston media, the New England Patriots’ second-year quarterback Ryan Mallett, drafted in the third round in 2011 amid high doubt as to the caliber of his talent, has sharpened his techniques significantly and improved his overall conditioning level, so much so that the team is excited about his prospects. If true, Mallett could be ready to compete for the back-up job behind Tom Brady, even as rumors swirl that he could be on the trading block.
At No. 3 on the depth chart behind Brady and Brian Hoyer, Mallett has had the opportunity to fly under the radar for a year, working on the finer points of his game while Brady worked with the first team and Hoyer with the scout team. Last year, he was inconsistent and sometimes lost. You could blame that on immaturity, a lack of focus, being overwhelmed by the pro game, a lost preseason due to the lockout or difficulty dealing with the pressure that comes with being a third-round pick on a contending team.
Recently, we heard rumors that a New England backup could be traded soon. Few teams have the luxury of carrying three quarterbacks these days but the Patriots did just that last season, not wanting to lose Mallett by having sweep him through waivers to get him on the practice squad (See: Jake Ballard) while having dramatically more confidence in Hoyer as a backup to Brady.
This season? We may see Mallett get into the battle for the No. 2 and, if he’s successful, the quarterback on the trading block could be Hoyer instead. Will there be a true competition for the backup job in camp? We’ll see. If Mallett looks good and pushes Hoyer, the Patriots may not have to go looking for a buyer. Instead, teams evaluating their own training camp depth at quarterback, or lack thereof, will come calling.