Bailey Zappe

Trade Candidate: Bailey Zappe

The Patriots completely revamped their QB depth chart this offseason, but there is still one holdover at the position. 2022 fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe is still kicking around at the bottom of New England’s roster, but it remains to be seen if the third-year pro will still be on the squad come September.

Zappe has had an uneven two years in New England, although the Western Kentucky product hasn’t looked completely helpless in his handful of starts. During his rookie season, he sparked a brief QB controversy after guiding New England’s woeful offense to a pair of victories. However, Zappe slid back down the depth chart when Mac Jones returned from injury, and the Patriots were expected to continue with that same hierarchy for the 2023 campaign.

Zappe ended up struggling under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, leading to him being a surprise cut towards the end of the preseason. The second-year QB quickly landed on New England’s practice squad, and he was signed back to the active roster in early September. Still, the roster machinations proved that the Patriots were willing to let the player walk for nothing, and the apparent lack of interest from opposing squads proved their wasn’t a whole lot of league-wide intrigue in the signal-caller.

The backup QB managed to bounce back and (somewhat) rehabilitate his image during the 2023 campaign. With Jones and the Patriots offense continuing to struggle, Zappe ended up garnering six starts in New England. His numbers weren’t pretty (59.9 completion percentage, 2.8 touchdown percentage, 4.2 interception percentage), but he was notably under center for two of the team’s four wins. While nobody is confusing Zappe with a starting quarterback, the player at least proved that he wouldn’t compromise his team’s chances if inserted into the lineup.

With the Patriots navigating a post-Bill Belichick era this offseason, the organization decided to completely revamp their QB room. The team used the third-overall pick on Drake Maye, pairing the rookie with veteran acquisition (and old friend) Jacoby Brissett. The organization also used a sixth-round selection on Joe Milton III, a series of moves that seemed to push Zappe off the roster. Reports from earlier this offseason indicated that the Patriots wanted to resolve their QB jam as quickly as possibly, allowing the coaching staff to better evaluate their three sure-thing QBs. That could have led to a speedy cut for Zappe, but the QB is still sticking around the roster.

While the Patriots could claim that Zappe is competing with Milton for the QB3 role, there’s little chance the rebuilding squad will prefer the third-year player to the rookie. So, it seems more likely that the organization is holding on to Zappe until a QB-needy team comes knocking. Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald indicated as much last month, noting that a Zappe trade remains a possibility for the organization. While teams didn’t show interest in Zappe last year, Callahan believes there could be a market for the player in the coming months, especially as teams face injuries during the preseason.

Callahan suggests that the Patriots could fetch a late-round pick in return for Zappe, or the front office could attach a pick to the QB for a better return. Considering the player’s track record, Zappe would probably be more appealing to teams that lose key backups vs. those that lose a starting QB. Of course, in order for the Patriots to avoid a staring match where a Zappe suitor simply awaits the player’s inevitable release, New England would require multiple trade partners to join the fray. Zappe’s most-recent deal with the Patriots keeps him under contract through the 2024 campaign on an easily-manageable $985K cap hit.

It seems like a foregone conclusion that Bailey Zappe won’t be sticking around New England for the 2024 campaign. However, it remains to be seen if the front office will be able to garner a return for the impending third-year QB.

Patriots Rumors: Godchaux, QBs, Gonzalez

The Patriots have a number of players on multi-year contracts who are heading into contract-years in 2024. One such player is veteran defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, who came to New England back in 2021. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, Godchaux didn’t practice at all during last week’s mandatory minicamp amid desires for a new contract.

Godchaux’s initial deal in New England was a two-year, $15MM contract that he earned in free agency following the expiration of his rookie deal with the Dolphins. The following offseason, the Patriots helped Godchaux avoid a contract year, extending him on another two-year deal, this one worth $20.8MM.

Entering the final year of his current deal, Godchaux is set to earn a base salary of $7.15MM. He’ll have the opportunity to earn an additional $150K via workout bonus and an extra $58,823 in per game active roster bonuses (for a potential season total of $1MM). Additionally, Godchaux is set to represent an $11.8MM cap hit in 2024, the third-largest figure on the team’s roster.

If the Patriots are interested in retaining Godchaux past his age-30 season, it could behoove them to work with the veteran to reach a new deal in order to lessen his cap impact this season. That’s a big “if,” though. According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Godchaux had the worst season of his career in 2023, grading out as the 102nd-best player at his position out of 130 graded interior defenders. He’s also now six years removed from his best season, in which he was the 39th-best interior defender.

New head coach Jerod Mayo told reporters that Godchaux is only one of a “bunch of guys” who want to “redo contracts.” Other players who are entering contract years who may be a part of that group include Matt Judon, Deatrich Wise, Jonathan Jones, Jabrill Peppers, Jahlani Tavai, Rhamondre Stevenson, Daniel Ekuale, and Raekwon McMillan.

Here are a couple of other rumors coming out of New England:

  • In one of our recent breakdowns of the Patriots’ quarterback situation, we mentioned that the intention of the team was to narrow the field of competition down to three guys by the end of spring. Jeff Howe of The Athletic partially echoed that sentiment, stating that, “ideally, the Patriots hope to enter the meat of training camp with three quarterbacks.” With No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye and veteran Jacoby Brissett likely cemented on the roster in either the QB1 or QB2 roles, that gives Bailey Zappe and rookie sixth-round pick Joe Milton quite a bit more time to earn the QB3 job. In an emergency situation, Zappe has experience starting from a backup role, but Milton has the potential to serve as a more versatile scout team quarterback at practices with more years on his current contract. Regardless, the deadline to wrap up their battle for the third-string role has been potentially extended to training camp.
  • The Patriots’ first-round selection from last year, Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez, saw his rookie season come to a terribly early end as he suffered a torn labrum that would sideline him after only four games. After undergoing shoulder surgery last season, Gonzalez was finally back on the field at the team’s minicamp. He claims to be “feeling good” coming off of a long recovery period, according to Reiss.

Patriots Rumors: Maye, WRs, Hightower

As organized team activities have progressed in New England, it’s looking more and more like Jacoby Brissett may be the team’s starter under center in Week 1. Naturally, some have asked if that makes No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye the primary backup at the position or an emergency option to stash for development purposes.

According to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald, Maye likely won’t need to sit and develop. In fact, Kyed reports that some in the building viewed Maye as a prospect ready to start right away as a rookie during the draft cycle. Even though Brissett is taking the lion’s share of first-team reps in OTAs so far, there’s plenty of time until training camp and the regular season for Maye to potentially take over the starting gig.

And, should Maye not beat out Brissett for the job, this also means that Maye likely won’t be stashed to sit and develop but, instead, will be the team’s primary backup behind Brissett. Kyed also notes that it makes more sense for the Patriots to stash and develop rookie sixth-round pick Joe Milton than it does to hold on to Bailey Zappe as an emergency third option. The team has seen what Zappe can provide up to this point, and while he won’t garner outstanding trade value, he should return something as an upgrade to many backup situations around the league.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of New England:

  • The Patriots’ wide receivers room is currently packed, while only six or seven players will likely end up on the 53-man roster to start the season. Kyed lists rookies Javon Baker and Ja’Lynn Polk as locks to make the team alongside Kendrick Bourne, Demario Douglas, and K.J. Osborn, leaving only one or two spots left for the rest of the group. That leaves a number of intriguing names in a precarious position including former Pro Bowler JuJu Smith-Schuster, former first-round pick Jalen Reagor, recent second-round pick Tyquan Thornton, and last year’s sixth-round pick Kayshon Boutte. As of right now, none of those four players are viewed as locks to make the roster in 2024.
  • New head coach Jerod Mayo and leading personnel executive Eliot Wolf are heading a new-look team in New England this offseason. One of the ways in which Mayo is attempting to bring the team into this new era is by appealing to the shorter attention spans of younger players. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Mayo has tossed the old method of marathon meeting sessions, instead favoring a new philosophy of “25-minute mental sprints” before taking short breaks. It reportedly heightens the pace of meetings while allowing for appropriate rest time in between.
  • Since leaving the NFL in 2021, former Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower has enjoyed retirement. While he still shared a love and knowledge for the game, he had little interest in leaving the life he was living behind. In an interview, Hightower claimed that his former college coach Nick Saban and Mayo were the only two names that could’ve drawn him out of retirement onto the sideline, per Howe. It just so happened that his close friend and former teammate became the head coach of their old team and offered him Mayo’s old job of inside linebackers coach. It was one of the very few offers Hightower wouldn’t say “no” to.

Latest On Patriots’ QB Battle

The Patriots hoped that they had the answer to replacing franchise quarterback Tom Brady when rookie first-round pick Mac Jones made the Pro Bowl while taking New England to the playoffs only two years after Brady’s departure. Unfortunately for them, the spark Jones showed in his rookie season quickly fizzled out as he found himself relegated to the bench last year and traded to the Jaguars. Once again, the Patriots have dedicated significant draft capital to the position, but perhaps they have been scared away from depending on their drafted talent in Year 1.

According to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald, No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye is currently running third on the depth chart in New England, behind Jacoby Brissett and Bailey Zappe. While we’re still early into the offseason, and Maye has plenty of time to work his way past Brissett and Zappe, the Patriots seem to be making him earn his role instead of gifting it to him based on his draft stock.

Technically, all four quarterbacks on the roster were drafted by New England, a feat not seen often in the NFL. Brissett, though, is returning to the team that drafted him for the first time since his rookie season. The 31-year-old veteran is the one currently taking first-team snaps in organized team activities, which makes sense, considering he has the most starting NFL experience of the youthful group.

After starting two games as a rookie, Brissett was traded to the Colts just prior to the start of his sophomore campaign. A week later, Brissett unseated Scott Tolzien as the starter filling in for an injured Andrew Luck and took over as full-time starter once again two years later after Luck announced his retirement two weeks before the 2019 season. Since then, Brissett has served mostly backup duty, starting five games in Miami for an injured Tua Tagovailoa in 2021 and starting the first 11 games of the Browns’ 2022 campaign as Cleveland waited out Deshaun Watson‘s suspension for sexual misconduct.

As a starter, Brissett is 18-30 in his career. Despite failing to consistently stay in the win column, the veteran has been efficient, completing 61.3 percent of the passes over his career for 51 touchdowns and 23 interceptions. Not once has Brissett thrown more picks than touchdowns despite a career reputation as a backup. Now, returning to New England as a Patriot for the first time in eight years, Brissett seems to have been handed the reins and will attempt to hold off Maye as the offseason moves on.

Zappe has an intriguing case for the job, as well. New England took a flyer on Zappe as a fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky two years ago. Filling in for an injured Jones and Brian Hoyer, Zappe showed promise after two starts, both of which were wins and one of which saw him throw for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Last year, despite starting the season on the practice squad, Zappe ended up taking the starting job from Jones down the stretch of the season as Jones’ struggles peaked. The 25-year-old has made the last six starts for the team under center, but his final two outings saw him throw zero touchdowns and five interceptions while failing to breach the 100-yard mark in Week 17 despite 30 pass attempts.

Zappe’s struggles led to the offseason acquisition of Brissett, thanks to the veteran’s known ability to start during bridge seasons when a starter is only needed for about one year. They also led to the team drafting two quarterbacks in this year’s draft: Maye and Tennessee-product Joe Milton. Milton spent the first three seasons of his collegiate career in Ann Arbor, serving as a backup for two years at Michigan before starting five games of the team’s COVID-19-shortened, six-game season in 2020. Going 2-3, completing only 56.7 percent of his passes, and only throwing four touchdowns to four interceptions, Milton progressively lost playing time to Cade McNamara at Michigan and eventually transferred to Tennessee.

Initially entering the 2021 season as the starter for the Volunteers, an injury opened the door for Hendon Hooker, who took over as starter until tearing his ACL 11 games into the 2022 season. Finally, in 2023, Milton got his opportunity to start for a full-season and didn’t disappoint. As Tennessee went 9-4 with Milton, the collegiate veteran completed 64.7 percent of his passes for 20 touchdowns to only five interceptions, adding seven more scores on the ground.

While one should never say never concerning Milton’s chances of earning the Patriots’ starting job as a rookie, the real draw of the 2024 draft class is the third-overall pick out of North Carolina, Maye. After redshirting in 2021 behind Sam Howell, Maye exploded onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in Chapel Hill, completing 66.2 percent of his passes for 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns, and only seven interceptions, adding 698 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Last year, the Tar Heels were expected to make a large leap alongside Maye, who many considered to be the top option to go second-overall after Caleb Williams, but the team remained stagnant in their success as Maye failed to come anywhere near his numbers from 2022. In two fewer games, Maye completed 63.3 percent of his passes for 3,608 yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. He rushed for 449 yards and nine additional scores last year, as well. While Maye’s status as a consensus first-round pick never quite waned, his stock fell quite a bit until a bidding war for passers forced many of the draft’s quarterbacks into the top 12 picks.

Maye clearly has the highest ceiling of the quarterbacks on the roster. The 21-year-old is the youngest arm on the roster by three years, and despite failing to improve in his second year as a starter, he’s shown a lot of pro-ready traits that prove the stage isn’t too big for him this early. The failure to get better also points to the possibility of a low floor for the rookie. If the Patriots are looking for the highest floor, Brissett is the likely pick to start under center.

Realistically, getting Maye’s feet wet and starting his professional development as an NFL starter is more important than avoiding a bad rookie season. The Patriots are a longshot to go from fourth in the AFC East to a division-title contender in 2024, so they likely won’t be in a win-now mindset.

While he has yet to earn the role just yet, expect Maye to be taking first-team reps in New England by training camp. Brissett provides an upgrade as an emergency starter in the worst-case scenario, and Zappe has proven he can be effective in small doses as a backup. Meanwhile, Milton will likely find his well to a practice squad where he can serve as an effective scout team quarterback. The team recently stated their plan to narrow the field of competition to three guys by the end of spring, so Zappe or Milton will likely find themselves off the roster or on the practice squad come September.

Latest On Patriots’ QB Depth

The Patriots are currently rostering four quarterbacks, but the team is expected to resolve the crowded depth chart as soon as possible. According to Albert Breer of, the Patriots’ plan is to “narrow the competition down to three guys by the end of spring.”

With OC Alex Van Pelt installing a new offense, the Patriots are hoping for a “more efficient” approach by the time the team gets together in the summer. New England’s organized team activities started today and will run sporadically until mandatory minicamp on June 11. The front office will presumably use that following month to resolve the logjam.

After being selected with the third-overall pick, rookie Drake Maye will obviously take up one of the roster spots. Free agent acquisition Jacoby Brissett will also be on the roster, and Breer notes that the veteran still has “an early leg up” on the QB1 spot. Assuming the Patriots intend to roster a third quarterback, the competition for the final spot will come down to Bailey Zappe and rookie Joe Milton III.

Zappe, a former fourth-round pick, has spent the past two seasons in New England, occasionally filling in for Mac Jones. Zappe went 4-4 in his eight career starts, and in his 14 appearances, he’s completed 63.2 percent of his passes for 2,053 yards, 11 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions. After showing some promise as a rookie, Zappe seemed to take a step back in 2023, with some sources pointing to his inability to grasp Bill O’Brien‘s offensive system. Zappe’s ability to click with Van Pelt could end up determining his future with the organization.

Milton was selected in the sixth round of the Patriots, so he’s not necessarily entitled to a roster spot. Known more as a developmental passer, the Michigan and Tennessee product is known for his size (six-foot-five, 235 pounds) and his cannon of an arm. With Maye and Brissett firmly atop the depth chart, the Patriots may opt for the rookie’s upside vs. the more experienced option in Zappe.

Patriots Select QB Joe Milton At No. 193

New England already added at the quarterback spot at the top of the first round, but the team has doubled down at the position. The Patriots have selected Tennessee QB Joe Milton with the 193rd pick.

Drake Maye – selected with the third overall pick on Thursday night – is in place as New England’s signal-caller of the future. Milton represents another developmental option for new head coach Jerod Mayo‘s staff to work with. The latter spent six seasons in college, though his only full-time starting gig came in 2023.

Milton gained and then lost the No. 1 spot in Michigan before transferring to Tennessee. Upon arrival with the Volunteers, he held down first-team duties prior to being overtaken by Hendon Hooker. Hooker was selected in last year’s draft, which paved the way for Milton to regain the starter’s gig. In 2023, the 24-year-old threw for 2,813 yards while posting a 20:5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. He added 299 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

At the Combine, Milton showed off his arm strength, something which will be a key factor in his ability to earn a roster spot at the NFL level. Playing time will be hard to come by in New England given the list of other options on the depth chart for the time being, however. Bailey Zappe is a returning passer from last year, but the arrival of two rookies could see him on the move. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport notes Zappe is “likely” available in a trade.

Moving on from Mac Jones this offseason, the Patriots signed Jacoby Brissett to serve as a veteran option while developing a rookie. He could begin the campaign as New England’s starter before the reins are turned over to Maye. While the status of those two quarterbacks will be an intriguing storyline during the summer, Milton will be in place as another passer aiming to earn a 53-man roster spot.

Patriots To Start Bailey Zappe In Week 13

DECEMBER 1: Zappe will indeed make his first start of the season Sunday, Howe reports, adding Cunningham is on track to play as a specialty package performer. Cunningham made his debut against the Raiders in October, logging six snaps, but has not suited up since. It is unlikely Jones sees action, per Howe, unless circumstances change during the game (as they have often this year for the Patriots).

While the repeated Jones benchings have pointed to this happening, it will still mark a significant change. The former first-rounder has only missed three starts in his three-year career, each coming due to injury.

NOVEMBER 30: Replacing Mac Jones on several occasions this season, Bailey Zappe has not made a start in his second NFL campaign. Signs are pointing to that changing in Week 13.

The Patriots are preparing to give the record-setting college passer a start over Jones this week, The Athletic’s Jeff Howe tweets. Bill Belichick is again not planning to announce his starting quarterback, but Jones’ second-year backup took the bulk of the first-team snaps in practice Wednesday, according to’s Mark Daniels.

Zappe made two starts for an injured Jones last season. With the Patriots winning both those games, the Western Kentucky alum generated some momentum. But Jones did not cede his job upon returning from the high ankle sprain he sustained. As Belichick-Jones tension simmered coming out of the former first-round pick’s step-back 2022 campaign, Zappe was rumored to have a shot at the starting job. But a true competition did not materialize in camp. Jones’ game action in his third season has changed this equation.

Two years after guiding the Pats to the playoffs, Jones sits 28th in QBR. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and 12 interceptions, two of those picks coming last week. The Alabama product is averaging just 6.1 yards per attempt, and while New England’s receiving corps resides as one of the NFL’s worst, Jones has regressed to the point he is far from a lock to be part of the 2024 Patriots.

This Zappe bump does come after multiple reports of the 2022 fourth-rounder failing to impress in practice, with issues developing in Bill O’Brien‘s system being at the root of these struggles. Zappe continued to encounter issues during in-season practices, but with Jones scuffling each week during games, he has made four second-half cameos. After completing 70.7% of his passes as a rookie, Zappe has connected on just 48.7% of his throws — albeit on just 39 tosses — this year. Zappe came to Foxborough after setting the Division I-FBS single-season touchdown pass record, throwing 62 in the Hilltoppers’ pass-heavy offense in 2021 to break Joe Burrow‘s record.

The Patriots do not have a good option here. Belichick’s team is barreling toward a top-five draft pick, sitting third in the early 2024 order after 11 games. This should be expected to produce another first-round QB investment, though Belichick may not be around to make that move. For now, this Jones-or-Zappe pattern persists. Neither rookie UDFA Malik Cunningham nor third-rounder-turned-journeyman Will Grier profile as players the team is ready to consider for starts, per’s Dan Graziano, though each could conceivably be an option as the Belichick era’s worst season moves toward the finish line.

Zappe, Cunningham and Grier have each been exposed to waivers this year, but no team claimed any of the New England backups. The Pats’ Matt Corral experiment fizzled early as well. This leaves Zappe as the lone viable alternative ahead of the Patriots’ matchup with the Chargers, but considering the way the team has operated at QB this season, Jones probably should not get too comfortable on the bench.

Patriots Replace Mac Jones With Bailey Zappe At QB

The Patriots’ decision to give Mac Jones another start in the wake of his ongoing struggles has proven to be rather short-lived. Jones has been replaced by backup Bailey Zappe to start the second half of New England’s game against the Giants.

Throughout the week, it remained unclear which passer would get the nod for today’s contest. An open competition between the two ensued during practice, with Jones earning a slight advantage. It was therefore the 2021 first-rounder who got the nod to begin the game, with the understanding that Zappe could see time as well. After a poor outing in the first half by Jones, a switch has indeed been made.

This marks the fourth time in 2023 that Jones has been lifted from a game, though on the first two occasions the move game late in contests with a lopsided score. In New England’s most recent game, however, Jones was replaced for the final series of the game with a comeback victory still in the cards. That move to Zappe – who was unable to pull off the upset in his extremely limited action – suggested he could unseat Jones as the starter in the near future. The 2022 fourth-rounder could now play his way into a longer look in the No. 1 spot with an encouraging performance against the Giants.

The Patriots trailed New York 7-0 at halftime after allowing a touchdown set up by one of Jones’ two interceptions. The Alabama alum went 12-of-21 for 89 yards in Week 12, continuing his Year 3 struggles. The hire of veteran play-caller Bill O’Brien was seen as a positive development for Jones’ ability to rebound from a poor showing in 2022 and revert to his more encouraging play as a rookie. That has not been the case, though, leading to serious speculation he will not be in place as the team’s starter for 2024, the final year of his rookie contract.

During Zappe’s first drive in relief of Jones, he completed all six of his passes for 38 yards to help set up a touchdown. If that success can be replicated, the Patriots will have an interesting decision to make to close out the season under center. Demoting Jones to backup permanently would likely mark an end to his tenure in New England, especially with the 2-8 outfit in line to have a strong chance at adding a quarterback in the first round of the 2024 draft. For now, though, the level of play delivered by Zappe (who struggled in O’Brien’s system in the training camp and was initially waived during roster cutdowns) will be worth watching closely.

Patriots QB Mac Jones To Start In Week 12

NOVEMBER 26: Jones will start for the Patriots against the Giants today, as Callahan was first to report. Per Reiss, Jones and Zappe enjoyed a roughly equal split of practice reps, with Jones usually getting the first look. Callahan says that Jones outperformed his backup (though it was close), and Reiss adds that Jones’ ability to process the blitzing schemes of Giants DC Wink Martindale also gave him an advantage.

Reiss also notes that Belichick kept his decision from the team, perhaps deciding that the unknown would allow the quarterbacks to remain focused on winning the starting job. Indeed, the head coach said several times throughout the week that he told “everybody to be ready to go,” per Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network (via Kevin Patra of

However, Belichick’s adominition that all of his players be ready was apparently not just a motivational tactic. According to Garafolo, Zappe will likely see some action in the New York game, and there may even be something of a QB rotation.

NOVEMBER 20: When speaking publicly on the matter, offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien confirmed the Patriots’ upcoming practices will determine the starter (h/t ESPN’s Mike Reiss). While head coach Bill Belichick will have the final say on the matter, it will be interesting to see how reps are divided in the coming days as Jones looks to retain his place atop the depth chart. O’Brien, for his part, gave Jones a vote of confidence with respect to bouncing back from his underwhelming performances so far this season.

NOVEMBER 19: Quarterback Mac Jones‘ grasp on the Patriots’ starting job is tenuous at best. Well into a second straight year of regression, Jones was benched at a crucial moment last week and now sees his future very much in question. After a Week 11 bye, the team has reportedly not made a decision on whom will start under center against the Giants next week, but for now, Jones has continued taking starting reps at practice, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic.

While faith in Jones’ ability to lead the team was already waning, it’s been reported that “at least 80 percent of the Patriots’ locker room is out on Jones,” per Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald. The lack of faith in Jones is reportedly rampant on both sides of the ball with a belief that Jones’ consistent mistakes tend to “negate the best efforts of his teammates.”

Callahan notes that, in addition to ranking second in the league for interceptions and leading the league with three pick sixes, Pro Football Focus has Jones leading the league in turnover-worthy plays. He is also on track to post “career worsts in passer rating, touchdown percentage, interception percentage, and yards per attempt.”

It’s not hard to decipher who would be taking Jones’ starting job, should he lose it. When Jones was benched last week, it was second-year passer Bailey Zappe whom the Patriots asked to step up with the game on the line.

The Western Kentucky alum started two games in his rookie year after Jones and primary backup Brian Hoyer both sustained injuries. He won both starts, and in four games in which he saw serious action, Zappe completed 71 percent of his passes for 781 yards while tossing five touchdowns to three interceptions, adding a score on the ground, as well. Zappe’s appearances this year haven’t been nearly as impressive, but they’ve come in two garbage time situations and one attempt at a game-winning drive.

The decision seems to boil down to Jones vs. Zappe, according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, as third-string quarterback Will Grier is expected to stay just that. “When you’re new and haven’t been here in training camp and had the full background of OTAs and a chance to run our core plays, it’s a lot to catch up on,” head coach Bill Belichick said on the Patriots All-Access television show. “Will has done a good job of it. There’s no issues with him. It’s just there’s only so many snaps out there.”

With that being said, Jones and Zappe have got some work to do. Even in a season that seems to be circling the drain with injuries, the Giants refused to roll over this week in a divisional matchup in DC, handing a shocking defeat to the Commanders. A decision on whom Big Blue will face at quarterback next week has not yet been made. For now, it looks like Jones, but it doesn’t sound like a situation that’s set in stone.

Patriots Waive QB Will Grier

The Patriots’ backup QB carousel continues. The team is waiving quarterback Will Grier, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The move clears a spot for p-squad offensive lineman Conor McDermott to join the 53-man roster, per Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald.

[RELATED: Patriots Undecided On Week 12 QB Starter]

While Mac Jones has started every game for the Patriots this season, the depth chart behind him has seen plenty of reshuffling. Projected backup (and potential QB1 fill-in) Bailey Zappe was bounced from the roster after the preseason, only to later rejoin the active roster via the practice squad. Former third-round pick Matt Corral was also briefly on the team before eventually earning his walking papers.

The Patriots then pivoted to Grier as a potential backup option. Grier most recently served as one of Dak Prescott‘s backups in Dallas, but following the Cowboys’ acquisition of Trey Lance, the 2019 third-round pick was cut loose. After a brief stint on the Bengals practice squad, Grier was added to New England’s 53-man roster back in late September.

Grier hasn’t seen the field at all this season, and even with the Patriots’ uncertain QB situation, it was unlikely he was going to earn a promotion from his QB3 role. Coach Bill Belichick admitted as much during a recent appearance on Patriots All-Access.

“When you’re new and haven’t been here in training camp and had the full background of OTAs and a chance to run our core plays, it’s a lot to catch up on,” Belichick said. “Will has done a good job of it. There’s no issues with him. It’s just there’s only so many snaps out there.”

With Grier no longer on the roster, Malik Cunningham could be in line for snaps if the Patriots pivot from both Jones and Zappe. The UDFA out of Louisville has spent much of the season working with the Patriots receivers, although the organization hasn’t completely shut the door on his QB abilities. For what it’s worth, the rookie did tell Kyed that he’s not part of the team’s plans at quarterback tomorrow against the Giants.

So, as expected, that leaves Jones and Zappe as the candidates to start Week 12. The Patriots still haven’t announced who will start the game, but with Jones having reportedly lost “at least 80 percent of the Patriots’ locker room,” there seems to be some real momentum towards Zappe earning his first start of the season. The 2022 fourth-round pick showed some flashes as a rookie, but the Patriots have been reluctant to turn to the second-year pro in 2023.

That lack of faith could be because of Zappe’s underwhelming performances at practice. As Kyed writes, the second-year pro has struggled under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, and Jones has been the superior QB every step of the way. While that’s obviously not saying a whole lot, the Patriots may be struggling to justify a Zappe promotion.