Future Focus: Quarterbacks

First in a series of positional "look-aheads" for the Patriots:

Quarterbacks: Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jonathan Crompton

Stat check: Coming out of 2010 training camp, the Patriots were one of 10 teams to carry just two quarterbacks on their 53-man roster. The league’s other 22 teams had either three or four.

First instinct: Tom Brady had his second best regular season (behind 2007), but saved his worst performance for the most important game. His first-quarter interception to BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the playoff loss to the Jets was his worst pass of the season.

Storyline not to be overlooked: Are the Patriots flirting with trouble by carrying just two quarterbacks? Sunday’s NFC Championship Game is one example of the importance of having a third option on the depth chart as Caleb Hanie stepped in for top options Jay Cutler (knee injury) and Todd Collins (ineffective). The Patriots have had just two on the active roster in each of the last two seasons. In the event of injury to Brady or Hoyer, receiver Julian Edelman would probably be the emergency option as he played quarterback at Kent State.

Future: Brady is signed through 2014, while Hoyer enters the final year of the three-year deal he signed as a rookie in 2011. That could make Hoyer a restricted free agent after next season, depending on the new collective bargaining agreement. It’s likely the team would tender him at a high level to keep him as he’s shown promise. Crompton, a 2010 fifth-round pick of the Chargers who played in college at Tennessee, was on the team’s practice squad this past season.

Final thought: Brady’s recovery from surgery on his right foot bears watching. Barring a setback, he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp, if not sooner. Hoyer is a promising No. 2 quarterback and if Crompton shows enough in training camp to earn a No. 3 spot, the Patriots will be well stocked. Still, drafting and developing quarterbacks is smart business and with nine selections, this is an area the Patriots could target in the mid-to-late rounds if the right player is there.

Your thoughts: What do you think the Patriots should do at quarterback this offseason? Share your opinions in the comments section of this blog entry.