Backup QB Ryan Mallet will reportedly start in the New England Patriots‘ preseason game against the Washington Redskins on Thursday. Mallet is expected to play at least a half and Tom Brady will not play at all. Let’s play the PTI game, “Something or Nothing.”
This is nothing. Let me repeat. This is nothing.
Brady doesn’t need the minimal playing time he would have gotten in the preseason opener. He will get a decent amount of playing time in the third preseason game, when the starters usually play more in that game than in any other preseason game, and he will be prepared when the regular season starts. Brady not playing in the preseason opener will have exactly zero impact on his or the Patriots’ 2014 season.
What this does mean is the Patriots are seriously considering trading Mallet and they want to showcase what he can do. Back in February, I wrote that the Patriots should trade Mallet. Nothing has changed. The Patriots are doing the smart thing here. They must see the same thing as Mike Mayock of the NFL Network — Mallet is a legitimate NFL starting QB.
The Patriots know, barring something completely unfortunate and unforeseen, Brady is their quarterback at least through the 2017 season, when his current contract ends. Whether Brady continues his NFL career after that remains to be seen, but the Patriots know Brady will be under center in New England for at least the next three seasons. No one will unseat him.
This is Mallet’s fourth season so he will have been in the league seven seasons by the time there is even a chance of Brady retiring. Even if they wanted to, the Patriots probably cannot hold onto Mallet for another four seasons until there is a chance of him starting and therefore contributing in a truly meaningful way. Mallet’s contract is up at the end of the 2014 season. If the Patriots had any plans of re-signing or extending Mallet they would not have drafted Jimmy Garoppolo (maybe questionably given other needs) out of Eastern Illinois in the NFL draft earlier this year.
The Patriots do not carry three QBs and if they are really sold on Garoppolo being Brady’s backup (and possibly the QB of the future once Brady hangs up his cleats), then putting themselves in a position to get as much as they can for Mallet is a smart play.