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Former Patriots QB Jarrett Stidham Finally Earns 1st NFL Start

Once seen by some as Tom Brady's successor with the New England Patriots, Jarrett Stidham is finally getting his shot to start in Las Vegas.

Once the New England Patriots' future, Jarrett Stidham is now the present for the Las Vegas Raiders.

The former Patriots' draft pick will make his first career start in silver and black on Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). Stidham originally joined the NFL in 2019, chosen in the fourth round by New England.

At that time, some saw Stidham, a Baylor and Auburn alum, as the potential successor to Tom Brady, especially after the latter left for Tampa Bay after the 2019-20 campaign. The Patriots, however, opted to sign Cam Newton in Brady's place and even lost backup duties to Brian Hoyer.

Limited by injuries and only playing in garbage time, Stidham threw 48 passes over two seasons with the Patriots with two touchdowns and four interceptions. All but four of those attempts came during the 2020 campaign, as Stidham spent most of last season on the physically-unable-to-perform list thanks to offseason back surgery. New England traded him, along with a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft, to Las Vegas in exchange for a sixth-rounder amongst those same selections. 

Stidham is working with Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels, who previously served as his offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in Foxboro. He previously went 8 for 13 for 72 yards when he was inserted into the Raiders' Week 8 loss to New Orleans. Over the summer, Stidham did preseason battle with the Patriots, going 4 of 6 for 72 yards in a 23-6 Las Vegas victory on Aug. 26. 

Stidham's promotion comes as the Raiders may be ready to move on from current franchise quarterback Derek Carr. Though Las Vegas (6-9) is still mathematically alive for the final AFC Wild Card spot, it'll need to win its final two games and get a lot of help to earn the elusive seventh seed. They're thus using the final two games to prepare for the future, planning to sit the incumbent Carr in anticipation of a presumed offseason trade or release. Undrafted rookie Chase Garbers will serve as Stidham's backup. 

Ironically, the Raiders will be eliminated before kickoff of Stidham's debut if the Patriots lose their own Sunday game against the Miami Dolphins (1 p.m. ET, CBS). Las Vegas will also be eliminated if they fall to the 49ers or if the New York Jets top the Seattle Seahawks. 

Stidham will face two formidable tests to open his career as an NFL starter: San Francisco (11-4) boasts the NFL's top defense in allowing just over 290 yards per game while the season ends with a visit from the Kansas City Chiefs (12-3) in Week 18. Both opponents are still alive for their respective conference's top seed and the first-round bye that comes with it. 

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

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