Where are they now? Tom Brady's prior backups
Right now, the New England Patriots' quarterback situation is "chaos". And I use that term lightly because they could put a cardboard cutout of Steve Grogan under center against Buffalo in 8 days and still somehow win the game by two touchdowns.
Tom Brady's four game Deflategate suspension was originally supposed to be a preview of the future, wher Jimmy Garroppolo would methodically tear apart every team in the NFL not named the New York Giants, but injuries to both Garroppolo and the 3rd stringer Jacoby Brissett, who presided over New England's 27-0 dismantling of Houston, the Patriots may need a newcomer to take over the whooping duties for their showdown with Rex Ryan's Bills next Sunday.
If both Garroppolo and Brissett are unable to go for next week's tilt...remember, Bill Belichick has had 10 days to prepare for the Bills...who will be the Patriots' stand-in? Twitter gave us some lively suggestions after Thursday's shutout, but look no further than Brady's other backups!
From 2002, his first full-time season as the Patriots' starter, up through this season, Brady missed just 15 games, all in the same 2008 season. Needless to say, his backups didn't get much work back then, but the Pats could call any of them back now to fill in! Here are some of the names that sat behind Brady and what they're up to now...
(Note: This only documents Brady's #2 quarterback during the regular season. So, no, Tim Tebow does not count)
DREW BLEDSOE (2001)
Then: Bledsoe was the New England franchise quarterback, presiding under center for the Pats since being selected with the top pick in the 1993 draft. When Bledsoe was injured on a big hit from Jets LB Mo Lewis, it set the stage for Brady to change the course of NFL history. Despite his reduced role, Bledsoe came through in the clutch during the 2002 AFC Championship game, leading the Patriots to victory when Brady got injured himself.
Now: Despite being usurped by Brady, New England fans did not forget Bledsoe's contributions to the franchise, as he was inducted into the team's fan-voted Hall of Fame in 2011. He would play five more seasons in the NFL, serving as the starter in Buffalo and Dallas before retiring in 2006. Currently, Bledsoe is the offensive coordinator for his sons' high school team in Bend, Oregon.
DAMON HUARD (2001-03)
Then: After he failed to succeed Dan Marino in Miami, losing that job to Jay Fiedler, Huard joined New England where he ended up winning two rings as Brady's backup, serving as the 3rd stringer for Super Bowl XXXVI and as the backup for Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Now: Huard lasted five more seasons in the NFL, all with Kansas City, where he started 21 games, posting an 83.3 passer rating. He remained active with his alma mater at Washington University, serving as the football program's Chief Administrative Officer. In 2014, he opened a winery with Marino.
ROHAN DAVEY (2002-04)
Then: A 4th round in 2002, Davey struggled to make a name for himself in New England. He plated seven games in mop-up duty in three seasons, throwing neither a touchdown or an interception.
Now: Davey went on to have success in NFL Europe, winning the developmental league's Player of the Year award in 2004, a year his Berlin Thunder won the World Bowl. Released by New England in 2005, Davey briefly spent time with the Cardinals before spending several seasons in the Arena League.
DOUG FLUTIE (2005)
Then: The final stop of his long football career (he had also played with the team in his first NFL stint after becoming a local hero at Boston College), Flutie's brief time in New England was eventful. Entering for mop-up duty in a win over the Jets, in the final Monday Night Football game broadcast on ABC, the 43-year old Flutie faced off with 42-year old Vinny Testaverde, the first time in league history a pair of 40+ quarterbacks faced off in the same game. A week later, Flutie kicked an extra point via a drop kick, which had not been done in the NFL since 1941.
Now: Flutie's illustrious careers in both the college and CFL levels was recognized with inductions into their respective Halls of Fame. Flutie recently competed in Season 22 of Dancing With the Stars, finishing in 9th place. He currently provides color commentary for Notre Dame football games on NBC.
MATT CASSEL (2005-08)
Then: Cassel became the first poster child that "anyone" could succeed in the Belichick offense. Though he had started a single game in a four-year career at USC, he was nonetheless selected by the Patriots in the 7th round of the 05 draft. After Flutie retired, he became Brady's backup, and he finally got to taste the field, throwing for 3,693 and 21 touchdowns when Brady suffered a season ending injury in the opening game. Despite missing the playoffs, Cassel led the team to 11 wins.
Now: Cassel parlayed that success into a starting job in Kansas City, where he was traded shortly after the end of the 2008 season. He signed a 6-year, $62 million dollar with the Chiefs, and while there were some good times, like an AFC West title in 2010, ironically subbing for an injured Brady in that year's Pro Bowl, Cassel was never able to duplicate the success he had with the Pats. Departing Kansas City in 2013, he has since started for Minnesota, Buffalo and Dallas, and currently serves as Marcus Mariota's backup in Tennessee.
BRIAN HOYER (2009-11)
Then: Despite a solid college career, helping turn Michigan State football into a force to be reckoned with, Hoyer went undrafted in 2009, but a solid preseason earned him the backup job with the Pats. He started no games in New England, but threw 43 passes in mop-up work, including a lone touchdown pass to Brandon Tate. Hoyer also threw the pass that allowed Rob Gronkowski to set the NFL record for most receiving yards by a tight end in 2011.
Now: After stops in Pittsburgh and Arizona, Hoyer moved onto Cleveland, where he provided a rare commodity, unheard of for Browns football...hope. Hoyer went 3-0 as a starter before an injury ended his 2013 season...but that didn't stop the Browns from drafting some guy named Johnny Manziel. Despite guiding the Browns to a 7-7 record in 2014...which might as well be 10-4 in Cleveland...Hoyer finally lost out to Manziel. He left Cleveland shortly after, taking a majority of snaps with the Houston Texans last season, starting 9 games after another former Brady backup lost the job. Hoyer helped get the Texans to the playoffs, but he threw 4 interceptions in said playoff game, a 30-0 loss to the Chiefs. Hoyer signed on with the Bears this offseason, and is expected to start on Sunday night with Jay Cutler's injury.
RYAN MALLETT (2011-13)
Then: Mallett was the first to wear the "heir apparent to the Brady empire" title, labeled a steal when the Patriots took him in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft. Mallett had previous played at Brady's alma mater of Michigan before transferring to Arkansas. He threw four passes, including an interception, in Patriot blue.
Now: Mallett was traded to Houston late in the summer of 2014, meeting former Pats offensive guru Bill O'Brien. In his first start, Mallett was very effective, posting a 95.3 passer rating in a win over Cleveland, but an injury ended his season. He lost out on the starting job to Hoyer in 2015...and by what I'm sure was a pure coincidence missed practice the day after the announcement was made. Blaming oversleeping, Mallett later nonetheless played during the season, but his ineffectiveness sent him over to Baltimore, where he currently serves as the backup, after the Texans released him.
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