For a quarterback who has only thrown a handful of passes in the NFL, 24 year old Patriot Ryan Mallett has certainly grabbed his fair share of headlines in this young off-season.
The first rumors began to swirl when it became known that new VP of Player Personnel with the Browns, Michael Lombardi, was at one time infatuated with Mallett. From there many deduced a potential move by Cleveland to get Mallett, despite the fact they drafted quarterback Brandon Weeden with the 22nd overall pick in last year's draft. That discussion has since cooled off, as it was reported the Browns are unlikely to pursue the Patriot's backup.
|Ryan Mallett's future has been a hot topic this off-season|
Despite these rumors, and undeniable needs of the current Patriot's roster, it appears the organization thinks very highly of Mallett. This was first made clear when they chose to part ways with long-time backup Brian Hoyer, cementing Mallett as the second string QB behind Brady. Today, NFL Insider Adam Schefter commented that the team thinks extremely highly of Mallett, and view him as a player capable of being a starting NFL quarterback.
Field Yates, a Patriots beat writer on ESPNBoston.com, posted today on Schefter's comments and offered some further opinions regarding the future of the position for the Patriots. Yates highlights the fact that this is an extremely weak draft class for quarterback as a primary reason why for the time being, Mallett may be here to stay.
That being said, Mallett is undoubtedly one of the best open-marking offerings the Patriots have at this time. They are a team that is a couple key pieces away from being a Super Bowl winning team, and the weaknesses that need to be addressed in the short-term (particularly in the secondary), are likely not going to be solved through the draft.
In this sense, Mallett is an interesting player for the Patriots in both a short-term and long-term view. Short term, his apparent high value could be used to bolster the current roster with a talented player at a position where Patriots need to upgrade. Looking at the long term, it is clear that Tom Brady's seasons are numbered and that someone will have to replace him whenever his playing days do come to an end. Is Mallett capable of filling that role?
In an perfect Patriots universe, Tom Brady will grab a few more rings before riding into the sunset of retirement as the solidified greatest of all time, and Mallett will take over in a Favre-Rodgers type transition (minus all the bullshit) and the prolific Patriots regime will continue uninterrupted. But that is obviously not a scenario we can bank on.
The Patriots rated Mallett as their top quarterback of the draft class in which they selected him in the third round. During his final collegiate season he finished 7th in Heisman voting and slid out of the first two rounds due to character issues. But the talent is undoubtedly there. In three colleges seasons (one at Michigan, two at Arkansas), Mallett started 29 games, amassed 8,385 yards passing with a 57.8% completion percentage; and threw 69 touchdowns vs. 24 interceptions.
|Mallett with the Arkansas Razorbacks in 2010|
The sample size since being with the Patriots has been relatively small. As we all know Belichick loves to keep Brady in the game much longer than necessary, which has minimized opportunities for Mallett. Because of this it is hard to definitively assess his viability as an NFL quarterback and potential Tom Brady replacement.
When considering potential suitors; the Browns were obviously a potential front runner but have since declared they are not likely to enter the Mallett sweepstakes. The Chiefs are also another team in a dire position at quarterback. NFL.com writer Chris Wesseling has even suggested that Matt Cassel could return to New England as the backup should the Patriots decide to move Mallett.
Taking all of this into consideration, it really comes down to what the Patriots would get in return for Mallett. I would only pull the trigger on a trade that would drastically improve the team now, and significantly increase their chances to win another Super Bowl before the Brady era is over. Any offer that is not overwhelming in quality and value should be passed up and the team should continue to develop Mallett as Brady's successor.
That is my opinion. What do you guys think? Vote in the poll below.