It appears Jarrett Stidham is taking the next step on the leadership ladder.
The Patriots’ second-year quarterback recently posted on his Instagram account about working with veteran receiver Julian Edelman.
In addition, ESPN reported Friday that Stidham organized a throwing session in Massachusetts with receivers Gunner Olszewski and Damiere Byrd. Fellow quarterback Brian Hoyer also was in attendance.
The workout is reminiscent to the ones Tom Brady was famous for conducting with teammates across the country during the offseason. Brady has continued the tradition in Tampa Bay, and Stidham, Brady’s one-time understudy and possible heir apparent, is following suit.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, teams have not been allowed to conduct traditional offseasons in person, including rookie camp, organized team activities, and mandatory minicamp. So far, everything has been conducted virtually.
Only players rehabbing from injuries are allowed to report to NFL facilities, so many veterans have organized small groupings and are obeying social distancing guidelines to try to simulate some sort of offseason normalcy.
Being the driving force behind such a workout is a sign that Stidham has embraced a leadership role for a club that has relied on Brady to be its offensive beacon for the last two decades. Stidham has displayed his leadership off the field, as well, as he and his wife, Kennedy, donated 1,000 meals to families through the Hockomock YMCA last month.
Stidham spent part of his February in California working with former NFL quarterback Jordan Palmer, who now privately coaches younger players at the position.
Stidham was a fourth-round pick out of Auburn in 2019, and Tigers coach Gus Malzahn called his former signal caller and the Patriots “a perfect fit.”
Though he barely saw the field after the preseason, Stidham played a valuable role during practice for a Patriots team that captured its 11th straight AFC East title last year.
While Brady’s backups usually were relegated to scout-team duty, Stidham also worked extensively with the first team in 2019 as Brady was often rested.
His performances were not lost on his teammates.
“To me, the best thing for him was that he had to go against our defense every week. He didn’t have it easy,’’ Devin McCourty said during his “Double Coverage” podcast in March. “I love his poise. I would be faking a blitz sometimes and we’d make eye contact and he’d just start smiling and laughing.
“To me, there were weeks where he was just on point. And those were some of our best weeks as a defense, mainly because Stiddy ate us up in practice leading up to the game, and I think put more pressure on us.
"So I really admire just how hard he works, and then I’ve got to know him off the field as well. He’s a really good guy. Young guy, but very mature. He’s married. I think the Stidhams are going to be in New England for a long time.’’
Though the Patriots were armed with a dozen picks heading into this year’s draft, they elected not to spend one on a quarterback, an indication they were content with Stidham and Hoyer, the steady backup signed shortly after he was released by the Colts in March.
“I like both those players,’’ Bill Belichick said after the draft. “We’ve had Brian a couple of times. I think he certainly gives us a very solid level of play. We have a lot of confidence in him. And Jarrett had a good year last year. He improved a lot. We’ll see where that takes him. I have confidence in both players.’’
The Patriots did sign a pair of undrafted free agent quarterbacks in Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke. Those extra arms will be needed in camp as the Patriots will have a baker’s dozen of receivers, a handful of tight ends, and a bevy of running backs challenging for roster spots.