Bailey Zappe

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.

Patriots QB Mac Jones On Short Leash

OCTOBER 15: Ian Rapoport of confirms that Jones is indeed on a short leash, and that if he should struggle in the first few series of today’s game against the Raiders, Belichick could pull the plug and insert another quarterback.

Who that quarterback would be, however, is unclear. Greg Bedard of the Boston Sports Journal recently told 98.5 The Sports Hub (as relayed by Karen Guregian of MassLive Sports) that Grier would likely be the next man up if Jones is benched. While Rapoport does not go that far, he does say that Grier and Zappe split reps in practice this week and that, despite Grier’s current status as QB3, the former third-round pick of the Panthers could be the one to get the nod.

It is also worth noting, as Mike Reiss of writes, that Cunningham received increased quarterback reps in practice this week after spending the majority of his pro career to date working on his transition to wideout. That surely does not mean that he would be called upon to replace Jones, but O’Brien believes Cunningham — who was just signed to the active roster — is one of the Pats’ most improved p-squad players. Rapoport adds that the club does have a package installed for the versatile weapon.

OCTOBER 12: Mac Jones and the Patriots offense has struggled mightily this season, especially over the past two weeks. The third-year quarterback has tossed four interceptions, lost a pair of fumbles, and earned two benchings in those two contests, with the offense failing to find the end zone in either of those two losses.

Many have started to question if Jones will continue as the QB1 for the Patriots. While it doesn’t sound like the leash is very long, the Patriots coaching staff made it clear this week that the former first-round pick will be under center this weekend against the Raiders. Coach Bill Belichick told reporters that the team won’t be “making any changes” (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport), while offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien said he expects Jones in the lineup on Sunday.

“It’s not about one guy,” O’Brien said when asked about Jones’ struggles (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). “He’d be the first to tell you that there’s things that he has to do better, whether it’s obviously take care of the ball, maybe read the route better, or get us into a better play. But it’s a collective effort.”

While Jones is expected to stay in the starting lineup, it sounds like the team is prepared to make a change if needed. Jeff Howe of The Athletic tweets that this will be an important week of practice for the starter, and the Patriots will continue to “evaluate every position on the roster.” Following New England’s Week 5 loss to the Saints, Belichick acknowledged that the team was “starting over,” an indication that everyone’s spot on the depth chart would be reconsidered.

Part of the reason the Patriots haven’t already pivoted away from Jones is because of their lack of faith in the organization’s other QBs. As Andrew Callahan and Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald write, 2022 fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe has struggled during his second season in the NFL. A source told the Herald that Zappe had a “rough transition to the new offense” under O’Brien, and that ultimately led to the team cutting the quarterback at the end of the preseason.

The other 31 teams passed on Zappe, and he ultimately landed back on the Patriots’ active roster (following a quick stop on the practice squad). The team has since shuffled through multiple options at QB3. Will Grier is the current third option at the position, but even Belichick recently noted how difficult it is for players to climb the depth chart during the season. While rookie Malik Cunningham intrigued during the preseason, the Patriots seem committed to the player’s transition to wide receiver. The lack of alternative options explains why Jones will continue as the starter.

Following a successful rookie season, it’s surprising that the Alabama has taken such a significant step back over the past year-plus. According to the Herald duo, much of the blame has been placed on the organization, as Jones has shuffled through three offensive coordinators, an inconsistent and injury-plagued offensive line, and an underwhelming receivers corps.

However, sources also noted that Jones hasn’t done anything to help his case. The quarterback’s tape is “littered with inexcusable errors,” and while the lack of protection and weapons hasn’t helped, Jones is still making fundamental mistakes. In fact, according to the Herald, some in the organization recognized that Jones wasn’t the guy following the 2022 campaign, but the Patriots hoped the QB wouldn’t be bad enough to sabotage their chances.

“We know Mac isn’t going to win for us. He needs to be comfortable,” a team source told the Herald this summer. “But we think we can win with him. We’ll see.”

The team hasn’t done much winning this season, with their lone victory coming against the Jets. Jones will get another chance at redemption this weekend, but it’s uncertain how much longer he’ll stick atop the depth chart if the offense continues to struggle.

AFC East Rumors: Jones, Jackson, Jets

The NFL’s franchise in New England had been spoiled with their consistency at the quarterback position over the 20-year reign of Tom Brady. This season, though, many are wondering if Brady’s eventual successor, Mac Jones, has what it takes to retain his seat atop the depth chart. According to several different sources, his starting job as the Patriots‘ quarterback is safe for now.

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network was the first to report this morning that the Patriots would be sticking with Jones at quarterback for today’s game against the Saints and that “no change was imminent.” He did mention that second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe, who got about a quarter of the team’s offensive snaps is last week’s blowout loss to the Cowboys, got more practice snaps than usual throughout the week.

Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated detailed that a lot of the struggles seen with Jones last week were things that have been noticed at practice in New England. He asserts that Jones still has a bit of leeway with the coaching staff, but Jones is going to need to remedy those issues in order to keep it that way.

Even after another blowout loss today that saw Jones pulled from the game in the fourth quarter, head coach Bill Belichick confirmed that Jones will remain the team’s starter, according to Josh Alper of NBC Sports. Belichick reportedly said that “the team will be ‘starting over’ as they move toward next Sunday’s game against the Raiders, but the new start won’t include a new” starter.

Here are a few other rumors out of the AFC East, starting with a new familiar face who recently returned to Massachusetts:

  • Recent trade acquisition from the Chargers cornerback J.C. Jackson was once a prized free agent addition in Los Angeles after his original stint with the Patriots. But things this year deteriorated to the point that Jackson, who was a healthy scratch for the Chargers in Week 3, was asked to enter the game to fill in for an injured Michael Davis, and he refused to do so, per a joint report from Rapoport and Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. Jackson, who had already sustained a serious injury during his time in Los Angeles, knew he had no future with the team and didn’t feel comfortable risking further injury. Additionally, the arrest warrant issued for Jackson in late September for reckless driving has reportedly been lifted, according to David Linton of The Sun Chronicle. Jackson paid the fine and agreed to probation in order to avoid arrest.
  • Along with Aaron Rodgers‘ former Green Bay teammates, wide receiver Mecole Hardman was considered a big addition to the Jets‘ receiving corps in the offseason. And despite his once prominent role on the perennial contender in Kansas City, Hardman has been a non-factor in the first five weeks of the season, including his status as a healthy scratch today. Hardman voiced his frustration to ESPN’s Rich Cimini saying, “I’m probably the best in the league in space. Maybe (the coaches) see something different. I’m just waiting for the opportunity to present itself. I think when I was in K.C., I proved that I was probably the most dangerous guy on the jet sweep, or whether it be on the end-around or on the screen, I think I proved year-out that I was that guy you had to worry about doing that.”
  • Sticking with the Jets, many expected a change to the composition of the quarterbacks room coming into the week. Cimini relayed head coach Robert Saleh‘s assessment that the room was “status quo” today. Tim Boyle remained as Zach Wilson‘s primary backup, while Trevor Siemian stayed down on the practice squad today.

Patriots Not Adding Matt Corral To Practice Squad; Team Adjusts Trent Brown’s Contract

6:47pm: Some may notice Corral’s presence on the wire today designating that he was taking a visit with his now former team in New England. According to Kyed, this is solely a formality. Kyed informs that “teams are required to report if a free agent is in the building” and Corral was at the facility this morning. His visit, though, had no bearing on his status with the team. Kyed reports that Corral’s relationship with the team is currently unchanged.

11:27am: After Matt Corral cleared waivers Tuesday, the Patriots were believed to have added the young quarterback to their practice squad. While this would mark yet another roster designation for the 2022 third-round pick, it has not come to fruition.

Corral has not returned to the Pats on a practice squad deal, Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald notes. While the Ole Miss product was on track to come back on a P-squad pact, Kyed adds he is no longer expected to do so.

The Pats claimed Corral off waivers from the Panthers shortly after roster cutdown day, and while the raw QB prospect practiced with the team for more than a week, he left the team without providing notice and ended up on the exempt/left squad list. The Patriots removed Corral from that list Monday, and no team claimed him. As of now, the Matt Rhule-era Panthers pickup’s career is in limbo.

Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe reside as the quarterbacks on New England’s active roster, while rookie UDFA Malik Cunningham is on the team’s P-squad. Teams rarely keep two passers on practice squads, but the Pats had intended to develop Corral, who spent all of last season on the Panthers’ IR due to a Lisfranc injury. While Carolina was interested in bringing Corral back on a P-squad deal, he is unattached as of Wednesday.

The Patriots briefly demoted Zappe, waiving the 2022 fourth-round pick before extending a P-squad opportunity. Zappe quickly moved back to the active roster, returning after the Corral partnership began to fizzle. Upon returning to the active roster, the Western Kentucky product remains signed through 2025, Mike Reiss of tweets. Zappe’s rookie contract ran through 2025, as all drafted players’ initial NFL deals span four years. Despite Zappe spending a short time on the practice squad after struggling in Bill O’Brien‘s system this summer, he is back on track.

Additionally, the Patriots added $2MM in incentives to Trent Brown‘s contract,’s Adam Schefter notes. Brown is attached to a two-year, $13MM deal he signed during the 2022 offseason. It is unclear what benchmarks Brown must hit to cash in, but the Patriots have dangled incentives for the veteran tackle previously. The team put weight-related clauses in Brown’s Raiders-constructed, Pats-adjusted deal in 2021 and included more in his current pact. Barring an extension, the team’s left tackle starter remains on track to hit free agency again in 2024.

Patriots Place CB Jack Jones On IR, QB Matt Corral On Exempt/Left Squad

SEPTEMBER 10: Howe reports that Corral was absent from the Patriots’ facility on Friday and Saturday, meaning he missed out on practice, walkthrough and team meetings in advance of today’s contest. He adds New England is still determining Corral’s future with the organization. Given the left squad designation, the team will have time to sort out its next move. Kyed adds, meanwhile, that the Patriots never seemed to be contemplating waiving Corral, despite the report from earlier on Saturday that they were doing so. This situation will remain worth watching until further clarity emerges.

SEPTEMBER 9: Patriots second-year cornerback Jack Jones suffered a hamstring injury on Wednesday at practice that immediately put his game status in doubt for tomorrow’s season opener, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic. After confirming that Jones wouldn’t be available in Week 1, Howe speculated that a multi-week absence could be in the cards for the young defender. Well, Mike Reiss of ESPN was able to confirm today that Jones has been placed on injured reserve, guaranteeing he will miss at least the first four games of the 2023 season.

The loss of Jones certainly hurts the quality of the team’s cornerback depth, but overall, the Patriots still look strong at the position. With rookie first-round pick Christian Gonzalez joining veteran Jonathan Jones in the starting lineup, New England should be set up well for Week 1. The team also has Marcus Jones and Jalen Mills providing depth behind the starters.

The Patriots’ transaction announcement also disclosed that they are placing quarterback Matt Corral on the exempt/left squad list. According to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald, Corral reportedly left the team without notice. This makes Corral’s “not injury related” appearance on the practice injury report this week make a bit more sense. Tom Pelissero of NFL Network explained that going this route immediately clears a roster spot for New England without the need to place Corral on waivers.

The Patriots filled one of the open two roster spots by signing practice squad quarterback Bailey Zappe to the active roster. Last year’s fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky will now be the primary backup behind starting quarterback Mac Jones despite being released during final roster cuts back in August.

To fill the other roster spot, the team signed practice squad running back Ty Montgomery to the active roster, as well. Montgomery will provide depth and variety off the bench behind Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott. While both Stevenson and Elliott have shown an ability to receive out of the backfield at some point in their careers, Montgomery clearly has an edge at that ability after converting from wide receiver after his rookie year.

Finally, the team will reportedly only be using one of their two allowed practice squad promotions for tomorrow. Veteran linebacker/special teamer Calvin Munson will get the call up for the season opener against the Eagles.

Patriots Sign QB Bailey Zappe To Active Roster, Release QB Matt Corral

The Patriots made one of the more surprising moves on roster deadline day when they cut 2022 fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe. The QB eventually landed on New England’s practice squad, and it sounds like he’s now back where he started.

[RELATED: Bill Belichick Addresses Patriots’ Decision To Waive Bailey Zappe]

According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, the Patriots have signed Zappe to their active roster. This is not a standard practice squad elevation, which was the route the organization was expected to take with the backup quarterback. Instead, the Patriots are giving Zappe his spot back on the 53-man roster.

In a corresponding move, the team has waived quarterback Matt Corral, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (on Twitter). The 2022 third-round pick took Zappe’s spot on the roster following roster deadline day.

After moving on from Zappe and undrafted free agent Malik Cunningham, the Patriots were left with Mac Jones as the only quarterback on the active roster. The Patriots later revealed some of their logic when they claimed Corral, a former Panthers draftee, off waivers.

The Corral acquisition was certainly an indictment on Zappe, but it seemed like the incumbent still had a firm hold on the QB2 role despite sitting on the practice squad. After all, Zappe has a year of familiarity with the organization, even if the team did hire Bill O’Brien as their new offensive coordinator this offseason.

Corral would have only had a week-plus to learn New England’s system, making it unlikely that the 2022 third-round pick would be counted on to immediately serve as Jones’ backup. Further, the Ole Miss product missed his entire rookie season due to a Lisfranc injury, so the QB was also expected to be brought along slowly during the 2023 campaign.

Indeed, the quarterback didn’t have enough time to catch up, leading to him sacrificing his roster spot today. Per ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the first indication of a QB2 change came at practice yesterday when Corral was absent. The Patriots could be counting on Corral passing through waivers and landing back on their practice squad, although that’s just speculation on my part. Joe Person of The Athletic notes that Panthers GM Scott Fitterer previously expressed interest in bringing Corral back to the practice squad.

Zappe added some intrigue to the Patriots’ quarterbacks room last season. With Jones and New England’s offense struggling, Zappe didn’t look completely lost during his two starts. He won both of those appearances, and in four games, he finished with 781 passing yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions while completing 70.7 percent of his passes.

However, the Patriots’ hiring of O’Brien seemed to be a vote of confidence for Jones heading into the 2023 campaign. We learned recently that the coordinator’s offense specifically caters to Jones’ strengths, and that system doesn’t necessarily fit Zappe’s playing style. There was also some speculation that former offensive coordinators Matt Patricia and Joe Judge let Zappe run a similar-style offense to what he ran in college, perhaps explaining some of his rookie success.

Bill Belichick Addresses Patriots’ Decision To Waive Bailey Zappe, Claim Matt Corral

The Patriots were busy reshaping their quarterback depth chart last week, including the surprising decision to waive 2022 fourth-rounder Bailey Zappe. The risk paid off and Zappe was retained via the practice squad, but he has new competition for the backup QB role.

New England claimed former Panthers draftee Matt Corral off waivers, filling the vacancy at the position on the team’s active roster. Given the lack of time Corral has had to acclimate to the Patriots’ offense, however, questions have been raised about his readiness to dress as the backup for Week 1. When speaking publicly on the matter, head coach Bill Belichick confirmed that no decision has been made yet on that front.

“All roster decisions are based on what we feel like’s best for our football team,” Belichick said, via Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald. “There’s a number of things involved there. But glad to have Bailey to continue to work with him. Still think he’s a good, young, developing player, and so we’ll keep working with him.”

Zappe made a pair of starts in place of an injured Mac Jones last season, and his play (along with perceived tension between Belichick and the latter) led to speculation about a potential QB competition in the summer. Instead, Zappe struggled this offseason while adapting to new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien‘s system, one which is catered to Jones’ strengths. Belichick’s remarks confirm Zappe is still in the team’s long-term plans, however.

As for Corral, little can be said with certainty given his lack of playing time. The Ole Miss product missed his entire rookie season due to a Lisfranc injury, and he has yet to make a regular season appearance as a result. Corral was in Carolina’s plans, but they will move forward with first overall pick Bryce Young and veteran Andy Dalton under center.

“We’ll take a look at him and see how it goes,” Belichick added during a WEEI appearance (via Kyed’s colleague Andrew Callahan). “[Corral] had a very good career at Mississippi, and hasn’t really had a lot of chances to do much in the last two years; was injured and missed some time. But [he] had a good preseason, so we’ll see how it goes. Look forward to working with him.”

Belichick added praise for Jones, who is entering a critical third year as the team’s starter. A healthy and productive season as the No. 1 would make much of the Corral-Zappe situation a moot point, but each of the latter two passers will have plenty to prove over the course of the 2023 campaign as well.