first_imgIt’s a logical move for the smartest and most successful NFL franchise over the past two decades to make, especially considering they have extra picks in the first three rounds.If coach/quasi-general manager Bill Belichick tried to identify New England’s future signal-caller by drafting Jimmy Garoppolo in the 2014 draft’s second round (and then again when he picked Jacoby Brissett in the third round two years later), why would he not take a similar approach in the upcoming draft, with Brady that much older and with no clear heir apparent in-house?MORE: Why Tom Brady should consider retirementWith Brady again saying his goal is to play until he’s 45, on the surface, it appears there is no urgency for the Patriots to use an early-round draft pick on a QB who would go into long-term development mode. Who says Brady can’t play four more years, with his dedication to proper nutrition and his workout regimen? And if he continues to enjoy the game and is having success, why would he retire?Looking at the situation from the organization’s standpoint, though, I believe Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft would like to have a talented, young QB being tutored by terrific offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and soaking up the wisdom and work ethic of Brady. The leaders in New England have to wonder how long McDaniels will hang around Foxboro waiting for the 66-year-old Belichick, a true football junkie, to retire.We know Brady is renowned for being a sixth-round pick who became a superstar, but it’s a long shot to think late-round lightning will strike twice for the Patriots with last year’s seventh-rounder Danny Etling. He is currently on the Patriots’ practice squad, so if they thought highly of him as a potential starter, he would not have been exposed to waivers in September. And New England’s QB of the future is not going to be current backup Brian Hoyer, who is 33 and has a 16-22 record as a starter with an 83.2 career passer rating.MORE: SN’s latest NFL mock draft for 2019Brady was 36 when Garoppolo was drafted, and the future Hall of Famer had to be less than thrilled when the Patriots used such a high pick. It might not be a coincidence that Brady’s five seasons since have ended as follows: Super Bowl win over Seattle, AFC title game loss in Denver, Super Bowl win over Atlanta, Super Bowl loss to Philadelphia, and now the Super Bowl matchup with the Rams.We know Brady loves to find ways to motivate himself. (Remember the “everyone thinks we suck” comment prior to the AFC title game). It seems Brady wanted to let everyone, especially Belichick, know he was still at the top of his game. He made the Pro Bowl in each of those last five seasons, and he was named league MVP in 2017.Five years after that Garoppolo pick, if the Patriots select another QB early in the draft from a solid crop of prospects, Brady will be neither as surprised nor as annoyed as he was back in 2014. He might be unhappy if Belichick takes a QB in the first round, as that signals a desire for more of a short-term change. But Brady has to figure one will come from the expected five picks the Patriots hold in the second and third rounds.Brady knows that’s the way the Patriots roll. Belichick has never been shy about drafting QBs. In addition to the picks of Garoppolo and Brissett, both of whom became expendable once it became clear Brady had plenty left in the tank, Belichick also used a third-rounder to pick Ryan Mallett in 2011. Three years later, Mallett also was traded away, to Houston. Yes, Brady had a good regular season in 2018 while leading the Patriots to their amazing 10th straight AFC East title, and he has elevated his play in the postseason. He was at his best on the game-winning drive in overtime against Kansas City. When Rex Burkhead scored the winning touchdown, Brady looked just as excited as he was when he led the game-winning drive to upset the Rams in his first Super Bowl 17 years ago. Tom Brady told ESPN last week there is “zero” chance he will retire after Super Bowl 53 against the Rams, his record ninth appearance in the big game. So with the 2019 return of the 41-year-old quarterback confirmed by the man himself, what are the chances the Patriots will once again draft a potential successor to Brady in the early rounds in April?I’d say close to 100 percent.center_img Even so, plans must be made to bring in the QB who will have the unenviable task of eventually replacing the legendary on-field leader of the Patriots dynasty.And again, Brady will try to extend that inevitable change far into the future.Jeff Diamond is a former president of the Titans and former vice president/general manager of the Vikings. He was selected NFL Executive of the Year in 1998. Diamond is currently a business and sports consultant who also does broadcast and online media work. He makes speaking appearances to corporate/civic groups and college classes on negotiation and sports business/sports management. He is the former chairman and CEO of The Ingram Group. Follow Jeff on Twitter: @jeffdiamondNFL.last_img