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Robert Kraft: Fan in me says Pats ‘at some point’ have to find Tom Brady’s heir

Robert Kraft conceded this week that “at some point” the New England Patriots have to seriously look at finding Tom Brady’s heir, and doing so will probably involve selecting a quarterback in the NFL draft.

The Patriots of course seemed to have Brady’s replacement in Jimmy Garoppolo. That plan was derailed when the Patriots dealt him to the San Francisco 49ers last season. The team’s unofficial depth chart has Bryan Hoyer penciled as Brady’s backup heading into next season, a quarterback obviously lacking the pedigree to be tabbed as the one who will one day take over for Brady.

That’s why Kraft — who noted he was speaking as a fan, not the Patriots owner — believes it might be time to seriously examine the organization’s long-term plan at quarterback. In fact, Kraft admitted it could be a priority to draft a quarterback in the 2018 NFL Draft.

“I’m going to put my fan hat on, and obviously at some point we have to,” Kraft said at the owners meetings this week, via ESPN. “Not just that, but think what happened in the ’08 season when in the first quarter against Kansas City, Tom [Brady] goes out. How many people would have said that Matt Cassel would have led us to an 11-5 season? I put my faith and confidence in Bill [Belichick]. He knows his responsibilities. Anything can happen, even if Tom comes in [and is in] tip-top shape.

“Part of why the networks pay us the funding they do, and the reason this is the best entertainment product in America, is you don’t know — one play can change a whole season. One play with one person. To do a good job managing an NFL franchise, we’ve always said understanding quality depth management, that’s our business.”

Brady has consistently stated he intends to play well into his 40s, meaning several seasons remain before he plans to retire. However, there has been some chatter of late concerning whether Brady’s stated goal actually will come to fruition, putting the onus on the Patriots to have some kind of plan for the future in place.