Tom Brady's departure leaves Patriots with big shoes to fill

The New England Patriots are now saddled with the decision on how to move on to the next phase of the organization after Tom Brady announced Tuesday he was not going to return to the team.

The Patriots have only started a few quarterbacks since Brady came onto the scene in 2000 – Drew Bledsoe, Matt Cassel, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett.

The Patriots don’t currently have anyone who could match Brady's prowess. They may find someone in the upcoming draft they could build or look to free agency for someone to fill the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback’s shoes.

Here are some players who New England could look to.

TOM BRADY TO LEAVE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, PLAY ELSEWHERE NEXT SEASON

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ON THE ROSTER

Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots makes a pass during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Jarrett Stidham #4 of the New England Patriots makes a pass during the preseason game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on August 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The Patriots had two quarterbacks backing up Brady – Cody Kessler and Jarrett Stidham. Read below for a brief profile on both players.

CODY KESSLER: The Patriots signed the former USC standout quarterback, Cody Kessler, in the middle of the 2019 season. He became the second backup to Brady during the regular season. He did not appear in a game for the Patriots, though. Kessler played in 17 career games and recorded 2,215 passing yards, eight touchdown passes, and five interceptions.

JARRETT STIDHAM: Jarrett Stidham is a 23-year-old from Auburn who the Patriots drafted in the fourth round last year. He didn’t have a great debut in 2019. He played briefly in Week 3 against the New York Jets. He was 2-for-3 with 14 passing yards and threw an interception, which was returned for a touchdown. He would appear in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 5 and threw one pass: an incompletion. He played his second game against the Jets in Week 7 and took five snaps. He had two rushing yards.

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TOM BRADY DEPARTS FROM PATRIOTS AFTER 20 SEASONS: WHERE COULD CHAMPION QB PLAY NEXT SEASON?

ON THE MARKET

Could Cam Newton play in New England next season? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Could Cam Newton play in New England next season? (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

TEDDY BRIDGEWATER: Teddy Bridgewater might be a long shot for the Patriots. Bridgewater was reportedly in talks with the Chicago Bears, which would mean Mitchell Trubisky would need a new home. Bridgewater played for the New Orleans Saints last season and won five straight games, filling in for an injured Drew Brees. His contract demands might be too high for New England.

PHILIP RIVERS: Philip Rivers is reportedly closing in on a deal with the Indianapolis Colts, which could mean that Jacoby Brissett is free. Rivers is a veteran quarterback and could be used as a stopgap for the Patriots when they decide to move on to the next phase.

JAMEIS WINSTON: Jameis Winston and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers could move on from one another during the offseason. Winston was the first quarterback to throw 30 touchdowns and 30 interceptions but also led the league in passing yards with 5,109. Under Bill Belichick, he may be able to get his accuracy correct and become an even better quarterback.

CAM NEWTON: The Carolina Panthers reportedly allowed Cam Newton to seek a trade. It’s unclear whether the Patriots would be interested but they have the draft picks to set up the Panthers should the two teams connect and talk about a deal. Newton spent a majority of last season injured. He’s made clear he wants to stay in Charlotte.

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VIA THE DRAFT

Washington quarterback Jacob Eason (10) passes under pressure from Boise State nose tackle Scale Igiehon (90) during the second half of the Las Vegas Bowl NCAA college football game at Sam Boyd Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

Washington quarterback Jacob Eason (10) passes under pressure from Boise State nose tackle Scale Igiehon (90) during the second half of the Las Vegas Bowl NCAA college football game at Sam Boyd Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Steve Marcus)

The Patriots have the No. 23 pick of the 2020 draft’s first round, which means they could take a quarterback relatively early if they’re not set with a quarterback by mid-April. New England also has three third-round picks, a fourth-round pick, four sixth-round picks, and three seventh-round picks.

JACOB EASON: Jacob Eason is one of the better quarterbacks in the draft after Joe Burrow, Tua Tagovailoa and Justin Herbert get taken in the earlier part of the first round. Eason played 2019 with Washington. He had 3,132 passing yards and 23 touchdown passes.

JAKE FROMM: Jake Fromm played three seasons with Georgia. In 2019, Fromm had 2,860 passing yards and 24 touchdown passes. He never threw for more than 3,000 passing yards during his collegiate career.

JALEN HURTS: Jalen Hurts has as winning pedigree and could be a late-draft steal. Hurts transferred from Alabama to Oklahoma after he was ousted from the starting role with the Crimson Tide. At Oklahoma, he had 3,851 passing yards and 32 touchdown passes.

JORDAN LOVE: Jordan Love is among the sleepers in the draft that could find themselves producing solid numbers if they get a chance. In three seasons at Utah State, Love threw for 8,600 yards and 60 touchdown passes.

STEVEN MONTEZ: Steven Montez spent five years with Colorado before jumping to the NFL Draft. In 2019, Montez had 2,808 passing yards with 17 touchdown passes.