The New England Patriots needed a backup quarterback as soon as they pulled the trigger on a deal to send Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. Luckily for them, one happened to hit the free agency market as soon as they made the trade. Even more fortunately, it was one they had intimate familiarity with. So the Patriots pulled the trigger and signed Brian Hoyer to be Tom Brady's backup. The deal they signed him to, however, may be the most fascinating factor of all.

Hoyer's handsome deal

The terms of the contract Hoyer signed on Wednesday were not immediately disclosed, but the length of the deal was: three years.

For the 32-year old quarterback, that could signal several things. First, it could demonstrate that he has lost faith in his ability to be a starting quarterback and the 32-year old is setting himself up to be Brady's backup in New England for the foreseeable future.

It could also mean the exact opposite, though. Hoyer may not be a spring chicken, but at 40 years of age, neither is Brady. Perhaps the Patriots are actually banking on the fact that Brady may get hurt, may decline, or may surprisingly choose to call it quits sometime in the next year or two. If he does that, the team will be ready with a veteran quarterback that could be serviceable, especially with the weapons the team generally has at its disposal.

One thing is for sure - teams don't generally sign backup quarterbacks to three-year deals.

Patriots history

Hoyer started his career in New England, signing with the team as an undrafted free agent after a college career at Michigan State that concluded in 2009. It was a shock that he wasn't drafted, giving the Patriots even more desire to sign the quarterback.

He played adequately during his rookie preseason, beating out several others for the job of being Brady's backup for the season.

In three years, he never started a game for the Patriots. He did attempt 43 passes, though, completing 27 of them - just one in his final season with the team. He passed for one touchdown and threw one pick during his tenure in New England, while also rushing for an additional touchdown.

The team released Hoyer just prior to the start of the 2012 campaign, though.

After getting some chances to be a starter around the NFL over the interim years, Hoyer will return to New England this week, looking to prove himself as a capable quarterback for the year - for the next three years, in fact.