NFL New England Patriots

New England Patriots: All Eyes Will Be On QB Ryan Mallett In NFL Preseason

Ryan Mallett Patriots

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

In just five days, the New England Patriots‘ preseason schedule will commence. Several players will ultimately have a lot to lose or gain in these games. Whether it’s because of an injury history, age or a better player ahead of them on the depth chart, some good players will be on the street in less than a month. Perhaps the player who will be watched the closest this year for the Patriots is backup QB Ryan Mallett.

As Pats fans know, he is set to hit free agency in 2015. That is unless he is traded or agrees to an extension. The latter is unlikely because he will be a backup for a few more seasons if he stays, barring a Tom Brady injury. A trade is more likely at this point, given the lack of consistent quarterback play in the NFL for some teams. There has been some mild interest in Mallett up to this point, but not enough for any serious trade to follow.

With that said, a standout preseason could change that in a big way. Should he show improved accuracy and command of the offense in the coming weeks, his trade value could skyrocket. He already has a lot going for him as a player. He is big, has a cannon for an arm and he has been learning behind Brady for several years.

If he makes some decent progress this year, there will be no shortage of teams lining up for his services. Teams like the Houston Texans, Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills and New York Jets among others, all have foggy quarterback situations and might entertain a trade for Mallett. The question is whether the Pats would trade him within their division for the latter two though.

As for what the Pats could receive back, right now he might be able to go to a team in exchange for a third-round pick. With a standout preseason, his trade value could increase to a high second-round pick, or if a team is desperate enough, a mid-to-late first-round pick.

It is imperative that he impresses in the coming weeks, both for his future and for the Patriots. It may mean the difference between life as a career backup or starting in the near future.

I do not believe that the Pats bringing in Brady Quinn for a workout on Monday is a mere coincidence either. New England is preparing to find a replacement after a potential Mallett trade at some point this year. They won’t be able to re-sign him after this year, and they would like to get a return for him if possible.

With this all in mind, all eyes will certainly be on him during the preseason. The future of the Patriots could be impacted greatly by how he performs.

Will Gellman is a New England Patriots writer for RantSports.com.  Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.