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For Bill Belichick, next Tom Brady could come in 2024 — after he’s gone from New England Patriots

When New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick let quarterback Tom Brady leave after the 2019 season, he probably figured it wouldn’t take all that long to find a capable replacement.

Well, he’s finding out the quarterback carousel can be a lonely ride.

The New York Jets haven’t had a franchise quarterback since Joe Namath. The Cleveland Browns have started 36 quarterbacks since 1999. Buffalo’s Jim Kelly retired in 1996, and the Bills didn’t find Josh Allen until 2018.

Related: 2023 NFL QB rankings: Where does Mac Jones rank?

You could also talk about the decades that have passed since the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions or Washington Commanders had a franchise quarterback, so there are no guarantees how long it will take New England to find another championship-caliber quarterback.

These days, the Patriots, who won six Super Bowls and played in three others from 2001-18, are one of the NFL’s worst teams. Only 1-10 Carolina has fewer wins.

New England is 2-9 and has lost four consecutive games, and the Patriots’ losing streak could reach nine because their next five games are against the Los Angeles Chargers, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, Denver and Buffalo. They will likely be underdogs in each game.

Bill Belichick
Vincent Carchietta / USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick still looking for QB consistency

The Patriots’ woes start with their poor quarterback play.

In the four seasons since Brady left, Cam Newton, Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe and Brian Hoyer have started games. They combined for 65 touchdown passes, 55 interceptions and a passer rating of 85.4.

Jones is 18-24 as a starter and the team is 27-34 since Brady’s departure.

Jones, the player New England took to be the epicenter of its offense with the 15th pick of the 2021 draft, had a terrific rookie year, passing for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and a 92.5 passer rating.

Then offensive coordinator and play-caller Josh McDaniels left to coach the Las Vegas Raiders.

Instead of hiring a proven offensive coordinator, Bill Belichick made special teams coach Joe Judge the quarterbacks coach, even though he had never coached offense. He named Matt Patricia, who had coached defensive his entire NFL career, the offensive coordinator and play-caller.

Is it any wonder Jones regressed?

Last season, he threw for 2,997 yards with 14 touchdowns and 22 interceptions with an 84.8 passer rating. This season, he’s been abject.

Jones, the 29th-ranked passer, has 10 interceptions and 12 touchdowns, while passing for 192.7 yards per game. He’s been benched in four of the past eight games.

You can blame Bill Belichick, which is why he’s probably not going to get an opportunity to coach whichever quarterback the Patriots take in the first round in the 2024 NFL draft.

Right now, the Patriots would have the third pick in the draft. It would position them to take one of the draft’s top quarterbacks, such as USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, LSU’s Jayden Daniels, Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. or Oregon’s Bo Nix.

Bill Belichick
Jasen Vinlove / USA TODAY Sports

Don’t expect Bill Belichick back in 2024

But it’s hard to see team owner Robert Kraft bringing Bill Belichick back for another season after consecutive losing seasons — even with all the success he’s had in New England.

In a 10-7 loss to the New York Giants, Jones completed 12-of-21 passes for 89 yards with two interceptions in the first half before Zappe replaced him in the third quarter.

“Just bad quarterback play and wasn’t good enough by me,” Jones told reporters. “So, if the quarterback doesn’t play well, you have no chance.”

Zappe went 6-for-6 on his first drive, leading New England to its only touchdown, but he completed only three of his next eight passes and threw a fourth-quarter interception.

On Monday, Bill Belichick was asked if he would consider adding a quarterback to the roster.

“I don’t really see that right now. I wouldn’t rule anything out, anything that would help our team,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen.

“If I think there’s somebody, if our pro scouting department thinks there is somebody that would help us, we’ll certainly listen to it and take a look at it, at any position. … Nobody that comes to mind, but we’ll see.”

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