Jacoby Brissett knows his role with the Patriots is different than most starting QBs’

FOXBORO, Mass. — Before stepping foot back into Gillette Stadium, now as a 31-year-old with eight years of NFL experience under his belt, Jacoby Brissett thought back to his first few weeks with the New England Patriots in 2016.

In those early days, shortly after Brissett was a third-round pick of Bill Belichick and the Pats, he felt like “a kid in a candy store.” His situation was different than that of other quarterbacks who get drafted that high. He was third on the depth chart, stuck behind Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo. But he was OK with that.

“I was giddy to learn,” Brissett said Thursday in his first public remarks since signing a one-year contract to return to New England. “I still feel that same way as (when I was) 23 walking in here.”

Now, Brissett is the veteran in the quarterback room. His role is different than that of most NFL quarterbacks who expect to start in Week 1. Yes, he’s being given a chance to win the team’s starting quarterback job and lead the Patriots into a tough opening stretch of their schedule.

But he’s also a second coach of sorts to the guy everyone knows is supposed to eventually take his job. And he’s OK with that, too. Part of his job is teaching No. 3 pick Drake Maye how to be an NFL quarterback, an incredibly important task for the future of this team.

But holding down the quarterback spot until Maye is ready is not his only responsibility. He’s a veteran now. Joe Cardona, Matthew Judon and David Andrews are the only players on this roster older than Brissett.

“When I was here the first time, you realize everyone is your mentor that’s older than you or had more experience,” Brissett said. “I hope I’m that for more than just Drake and (can) be a helping person for players on this team.”

The Patriots felt Brissett was the perfect quarterback for this early stage of their rebuild for a few reasons. The first is his personality. Former coaches and teammates spoke glowingly of Brissett’s selflessness and willingness to help others. That was important as New England searched for the right quarterback in free agency.

The Pats also liked Brissett’s dedication to the fundamentals. His arm talent isn’t off the charts, but coaches say he does everything right. His dropbacks reach the proper depths. His play-action fakes are done as taught. He gets the offense into the right play. Those are valuable lessons they hope rub off on Maye.

Finally — and crucially — Brissett can still play.

He didn’t start any games with the Washington Commanders last season, but he started 11 games in 2022 with the Cleveland Browns where he worked with new Patriots offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. That season, Brissett ranked 21st in the NFL in completion percentage, 16th in yards per attempt, eighth in QBR and 10th in expected points added per play. Not eye-popping stats, but certainly serviceable. And a meaningful upgrade from what the Patriots got from their quarterbacks a year ago.

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Given all of that, the Patriots were eager to sign Brissett with the hope that he can bring out the best in Maye while fostering a productive relationship among the quarterbacks.

“How do I make it not awkward? I don’t know. Just be myself,” Brissett said of the potential weirdness of a quarterback competition while mentoring Maye. “I have no ego in this. … Whatever is going to happen for me is going to happen.”

Brissett’s experience can also create important learning opportunities for Maye and fellow rookie Joe Milton. As Brissett mentioned, he was the third-string quarterback when he arrived in New England from NC State. He barely got any reps in training camp in 2016 and expected to get even fewer once the season began.

Then, in Week 2, with Brady suspended and Garoppolo hurt midgame against the Miami Dolphins, Brissett was suddenly the Patriots’ starting quarterback.

Brissett told that story to help the young players. He knows it’s part of his job now.

“I’m excited to work with him,” Brissett said of Maye. “He’s 21 and I was 22 (when I first came to the Patriots), but I remember following Tom around. (Maye) is already texting me about plays and how I think about this and cadence — all the little nuances of playing at this level.”

The big decisions will be based on how Brissett and Maye perform in training camp. Maybe Maye is so good early on that the Patriots want him to start from the get-go. But Maye is very young (he was the second-youngest quarterback drafted) and only played two seasons of college football.

Plus, the Patriots have a brutal start to the season. Five of their first six opponents have Super Bowl aspirations, and three of the first four are on the road. So if the Patriots were already likely to keep Maye on the bench to begin the season, perhaps the schedule gives another push toward Brissett getting the early snaps.



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Whatever happens, Brissett knows what’s going on. He knows his one-year deal and Maye’s status point toward him not being here next year, at least not as the Pats’ starter. But he’s going eyes wide open into a quarterback competition with the willingness to help out the team’s No. 3 pick.

“I’m a teammate first,” Brissett said. “I hope I can be a good teammate to not only him but everyone on this team.”

(Photo: Scott Taetsch / Getty Images)

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