Mac Jones

Latest On Patriots, Mac Jones

The Dolphins picked up their quarterback’s fifth-year option two months in advance, after rumors emerged about the team’s potential to seek an upgrade on Tua Tagovailoa. Committing fully to Justin Fields, the Bears traded the No. 1 overall pick earlier than anyone has during an offseason since the draft moved to April. The Patriots have operated differently with their young quarterback.

Mac Jones is now coming up in trade rumors, and Bill Belichick has not endorsed the 2021 first-round pick — despite Jones receiving praise from Robert Kraftas his surefire starter yet. That said, the Pats might not exactly be intent on moving Jones.

The teams mentioned in Tuesday’s report — the Buccaneers, Commanders, Raiders and Texans — have not seemed to indicate notable Jones discussions commenced. Staffers from multiple teams mentioned told’s Albert Breer they had not heard from the Patriots on Jones, though one had discussed the quarterback with the Pats. High-ranking execs from a QB-needy team in the AFC and NFC also mentioned they had also not heard from New England, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports (subscription required).

Even if the Patriots are not operating like they want to cut bait on the former national championship-winning passer, his standing in the organization does appear to have taken a hit. Belichick has been upset with how the quarterback conducted himself last season, and the efforts the Alabama alum made to contact coaches at his alma mater did not go over well with the legendary head coach. This certainly raises the stakes for Jones’ 2023, as he took a step back — albeit as he was thrust into one of the stranger offensive experiments in memory — last season. Rival evaluators pointed to the Pats’ dysfunctional offense as giving Jones no chance to succeed in 2022, Howe adds, pointing to potentially reasonable trade value — in the event the third-year QB was legitimately being shopped.

By the end of last season, Breer adds some Patriots coaches did not believe a large gulf existed between Jones and backup Bailey Zappe. The Pats have since released Brian Hoyer, who has rejoined Josh McDaniels in Las Vegas, and are prepared to give Zappe an opportunity to push Jones. Belichick should be expected to make the former No. 15 overall pick earn his job during the summer, Breer notes, adding Zappe — a fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky — fell in line with what the Patriots were trying to do last year. That perhaps should be expected of a rookie, but Belichick certainly looks to be sending a message to Jones this offseason.

Both Jones and Zappe, per Breer, have stayed in town and are discussing the offense with the new coaching staff, which includes OC Bill O’Brien, whom Jones helped acclimate to Alabama when the ex-Texans HC took over as Nick Saban’s play-caller. The Pats still expect Jones to win the job, Howe notes. As this quarterback matchup comes at a time in which Kraft has not exactly spoken glowingly of Belichick’s recent efforts, this will be a fascinating offseason in Foxborough.

Tension Remains Between Bill Belichick, Mac Jones; Patriots Shopped QB?

The Patriots placed Mac Jones at the center of a historically unusual experiment last season, giving career defensive coach Matt Patricia the keys to the offense. It backfired, and Jones expressed steady frustration with the plan.

Jones’ irritation spilled outside the building, with NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran noting the former first-round pick was asking for assistance from coaches not on New England’s staff. Those efforts getting back to Bill Belichick has affected the sides’ relationship, Curran said during a WEEI interview (video link).

Alabama staffers received calls from Jones regarding the Patriots’ plan on offense, NBC Sports’ Chris Simms reports. This comes after a report that indicated Jones had said during the 2022 offseason he would be teaching the Pats’ offense to Joe Judge, who was moved into position as the team’s de facto quarterbacks coach following his Giants ouster. Judge remains on New England’s staff; Patricia is not currently with the team but has a potential path to stay.

This looks to be a storyline to monitor. Belichick has since shopped Jones this offseason, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who notes the 24th-year head coach has discussed his starting QB in trades with multiple teams. It is not known who Belichick discussed Jones’ potential availability with, but the Raiders were mentioned as a potential suitor before free agency. Las Vegas has since signed former Josh McDaniels pupil Jimmy Garoppolo. McDaniels worked with Jones in 2021.

The Texans also came up, per Florio. Houston GM Nick Caserio was not with the Patriots when they drafted Jones, but he obviously has deep New England ties due to his run as Belichick’s right-hand personnel man. Were the Patriots to attempt to trade Jones outside the AFC, teams like the Buccaneers and Commanders emerged as potential suitors. Those teams have since added Baker Mayfield and Jacoby Brissett, respectively. These veterans would not seemingly be an impediment to a Jones pursuit, so how each organization proceeds in the draft could be relevant to the Patriots.

Jones talks may well have reached the offer stage, with’s Doug Kyed adding no offer was good enough to prompt the Patriots to act here. Tension remains between Belichick and Jones, per Kyed, who adds both Robert and Pats president Jonathan Kraft are fond of of the third-year quarterback. This makes it worth wondering if Belichick would have the green light to move on from the former No. 15 overall pick. Jones’ rookie contract can run through 2025, via the fifth-year option. After 2022, it cannot be assumed the Pats will pick up that option. The former national championship-winning QB’s deal has been mentioned as a barrier in the way of a Lamar Jackson pursuit; the Pats are one of the many teams planning to steer clear of the Ravens superstar.

I’m a big fan of Mac,” Kraft said at the league meetings. “He came to us as a rookie. He quarterbacked in his rookie season and did a very fine job I thought. We made the playoffs. I think we experimented with some things last year that frankly didn’t work when it came to him, in my opinion.

Belichick’s unusual Patricia-based plan also may have bothered Brian Hoyer. The off-and-on New England backup was not on board with installing a former defensive coordinator as the play-caller, Curran adds. He was not the only one, with veteran NFL reporter Mike Giardi noting (via Twitter) every position group observed the dysfunction on offense last season.

The Patriots released Hoyer this offseason, eating $1.6MM in dead money to do so, and the 15th-year veteran agreed to terms with the Raiders on Tuesday. Following Hoyer’s 2022 concussion, the Pats used third-stringer Bailey Zappe in place of Jones. A mini-QB controversy developed after the Western Kentucky one-and-done won both his starts. Jones regained his job after recovering from the high ankle sprain he sustained, but Zappe is now believed to have a chance at pushing Jones this offseason.

A fourth-round pick who played one season of Division I football — albeit a record-setting showing in a pass-crazed offense — Zappe would be an underdog against Jones, who now has Bill O’Brien in place as OC. On his way out of Tuscaloosa in 2021, Jones helped teach Nick Saban’s then-new OC the Crimson Tide’s offense. After Kraft called Belichick’s decision to install Patricia as the Pats’ primary play-caller a mistake, O’Brien — in his second tour of duty as New England’s OC — is now in place to help clean up the mess.

After elevating the Patriots’ passing attack — at least, compared to their Cam Newton season — and helping the 2021 team to the playoffs, Jones has seen his New England tenure veer off course. It will be interesting to see how he, Belichick, Judge and O’Brien coexist moving forward.

Patriots Notes: QBs, Mayo, Patricia, JuJu

Mac Jones struggled mightily during his second season in the NFL. After earning a Pro Bowl nod and guiding the Patriots to a 10-7 record as a rookie, Jones went 6-8 while tossing 14 touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions in 2022. Rookie fourth-round pick Bailey Zappe started a pair of games while filling in for an injured Jones last season, winning both of his starts while tossing three touchdowns vs. one pick in those two games.

Jones’ 2022 struggles can easily be attributed to the loss of offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (and replacing the OC with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge), and when you consider New England’s first-round investment in Jones, it’s easy to assume that he’ll retain his starting gig heading into the 2023 campaign. However, coach Bill Belichick refused to give Jones a vote of confidence following the 2022 season, leading some to wonder if the Patriots could have a QB competition heading into next year.

In typical Belichick fashion, the head coach didn’t provide too much insight into the QB situation while speaking to reporters today, noting that “everyone will get a chance to play” and the Patriots will opt for “the best player.”

“If they earn an opportunity to play based on what they do in practice and all that, then they’ll get an opportunity to play,” Belichick said (via Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald). “Certainly the veteran players that have been on the team before, if they’re still on the team, they’ll all get an opportunity to play.”

It’s not a huge surprise to see Belichick playing coy, but as Callahan notes, Belichick definitively stated that Tom Brady and Cam Newton were the starting QBs throughout their respective tenures with the Patriots. Now, Jones certainly doesn’t have the resume of either of his predecessors, but it’s certainly interesting that Belichick continues to avoid answering questions about his quarterbacks depth chart.

While Belichick might not want to publicly support Jones, the QB has a fan in Robert Kraft.

I’m a big fan of Mac,” the Patriots owner said (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport on Twitter). “We experimented with some things last year that didn’t work. We made changed to put him in position to excel.”

More notes out of New England…

  • When Jerod Mayo rejected head coaching interviews and decided to stick with the Patriots, it was assumed the organization promised him a larger role…with some wondering if Mayo may have the inside track on succeeding Belichick as head coach. Kraft somewhat acknowledged as much during an interview on NFL Network, saying he views Mayo as a potential heir apparent to Belichick (via’s Judy Battista on Twitter). Kraft also told NFL Network that he doesn’t see a ceiling on Mayo’s coaching career. Following an eight-year playing career with the Patriots, Mayo joined New England’s coaching staff as linebackers coach in 2019. Recently, he’s served as the unofficial defensive coordinator alongside Steve Belichick.
  • Patricia earned plenty of criticism last season while serving as the team’s de facto offensive coordinator. The Patriots have since brought in Bill O’Brien to guide their offense, but there hasn’t been a reported resolution on Patricia’s status with the organization. Naturally, Belichick didn’t provide many additional details on the situation, telling reporters that he’s unsure if Patricia will be coaching for the Patriots in 2023 (via AtoZSports’ Doug Kyed on Twitter). After serving as the Patriots defensive coordinator for six years, Patricia returned to the organization in 2021 following a three-year stint as the Lions head coach.
  • New Patriots receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster has incentives in his contract tied to receiving yards, per ESPN’s Mike Reiss (on Twitter). In 2023, the wideout can earn $750K if he hits 950 yards and he can earn another $750K at 1,100 yards. In 2024 and 2025, Smith-Schuster can earn $1MM for 800 yards, $1MM for 950 yards, and another $1MM for 1,100 yards.
  • James Robinson‘s new contract with the Patriots contains no guaranteed money, per Kyed (on Twitter). He’ll earn a $150K roster bonus if he sticks on the 2023 roster, plus $160K via a workout bonus and up to $680K in per-game roster bonuses.

AFC East Notes: Ramsey, Patriots, Hardman

A year after acquiring Tyreek Hill and Bradley Chubb via trade, the Dolphins added another standout in Jalen Ramsey. Miami became a destination for Ramsey, whom Albert Breer of notes had zeroed in on landing with the AFC East club. Sean McVay met with Ramsey in January and informed him the Rams would explore trade options, mentioning the team would explore a deal as a way to restock its draft capital and reduce costs. Rams GM Les Snead called teams two weeks before the Combine to gauge interest, and after Dolphins GM Chris Grier confirmed his team might be, Vic Fangio provided a positive opinion of Ramsey’s place in his defense.

After Ramsey’s agent informed him about a Miami deal, the All-Pro cornerback instructed his representative to make sure he ended up there. The Rams may not have traded Ramsey to the Dolphins just because he wanted to be there, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic tweets, but they did want him out of the NFC. Snead’s price point was initially too high for the Dolphins, per Breer, but the sides settled on a package of a third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long. A far cry from what the Rams sent the Jaguars for Ramsey in 2019 — two first-round picks and a fourth — but the Dolphins now have the eighth-year veteran on the roster and have since adjusted his contract.

Here is the latest from the AFC East:

  • The Patriots discussed DeAndre Hopkins with the Cardinals early this offseason, per The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, but they backed off due to Arizona’s ask (subscription required). The Cardinals are rumored to be seeking a second-round pick and change here. The NFC West team is not expected to land that, as Howe adds other teams believe the Cards want to dump Hopkins’ salary ($19.45MM in 2023). The Bills and Chiefs are now the closest links to the former All-Pro wideout.
  • Mecole Hardman committed to the Jets after Aaron Rodgers indicated he wanted to be traded to New York, but the ex-Chiefs wideout said (via ESPN’s Rich Cimini) the four-time MVP’s intentions did not affect his decision. While it would seem that would have at least moved the needle a bit — compared to a world in which Zach Wilson was on track for a third QB1 Jets season, at least — Hardman said he was excited to play with Garrett Wilson and Allen Lazard. Hardman added (via the New York Post’s Brian Costello) the Jets showed interest throughout his free agency, which ended with a one-year deal worth up to $6.5MM. Hardman did not elaborate on a Chiefs offer to bring him back, but he seemed to confirm the defending champions’ previously reported plan to move on.
  • A faction of the Patriots‘ locker room voiced support for Bailey Zappe during last season’s brief QB controversy, Devin McCourty confirmed during a WEEI interview (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). “It was just a back and forth, which to me, spoke more about what we had on offense than the quarterback,” McCourty said. “We never were solidified as an offensive group that guys had full confidence in anything we were doing. There was never true hope.” The Pats, who regressed on offense in 2022, have since rehired Bill O’Brien as OC. While Mac Jones won his job back amid a dysfunctional season, the Pats will give Zappe a chance to push him this year.
  • The incentives in Mike Gesicki‘s one-year, $4.5MM Patriots contract include $300K bumps starting at the 40-reception mark, Doug Kyed of tweets. Gesicki could collect $1.2MM if he reaches 70 catches in 2023. There are also up to $1.2MM in available yardage incentives, with that escalator package starting at 450 yards and ending at 750. Playing-time incentives are also included in the package.
  • Up to $4MM in incentives are present in Riley Reiff‘s one-year, $5MM deal. He will earn $800K by playing 53% of the Pats’ offensive snaps, per Kyed (on Twitter). These figures decrease the higher the snap rate goes, but Reiff can earn all $4.5MM by reaching an 80% snap rate.

QB Notes: Giants, Geno, Watson, Pats, Jets

After a frenzied run-up to the franchise tag deadline, the Giants have been a bit quieter leading up to free agency. The team’s top business is complete, though they will also be prepared to add talent next week and try to negotiate a Saquon Barkley extension before the July deadline. The Giants’ top contract is done, however, with Daniel Jones agreeing to a four-year, $160MM deal. That contract includes $82MM fully guaranteed — eighth among QBs — and both his 2023 and 2024 base salaries ($9.5MM, $35.5MM) are fully guaranteed, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes. Most of Jones’ 2025 base ($30MM) is guaranteed for injury at signing, but it does not become fully guaranteed until the 2025 league year. Rather than a year-out vesting date, Jones’ 2025 guarantees not vesting until that point gives the team an out barring injury. Jones’ $46MM 2026 base salary is nonguaranteed, Florio adds.

Although the nonguaranteed 2026 money more accurately tabs this deal as a three-year, $112.5MM pact, the Giants would be on the hook for just $18MM in dead money were they to shed it from their payroll in 2025. Here is the latest from the QB ranks:

  • The Seahawks look to have convinced Geno Smith to accept a “prove it” contract, albeit on a major raise. Initially reported as a three-year, $105MM pact, Smith’s deal includes full guarantees ($27.3MM) that only stretch through 2023. An additional $12.7MM is guaranteed for injury until February, when’s Mike Garafolo notes (on Twitter) it shifts to a full guarantee. That gives the Seahawks additional time to evaluate Smith, who surprised most with his 2022 performance. Smith’s guarantee consists of a $26.1MM signing bonus and a $1.2MM base salary in 2023, Albert Breer of tweets. The Seahawks could designate Smith as a post-June 1 cut in 2024 and be charged with just $8.7MM in dead money. Pete Carroll has spoken of the possibility the Seahawks could take a quarterback at No. 5. While the trade-down-happy team may be trying to create a market for the pick, the Smith details point to the team’s QB situation not being settled beyond 2023.
  • Browns GM Andrew Berry discussed the possibility of a Deshaun Watson restructure. While this is a restructure-crazed point on the NFL calendar, the prospect of adjusting this particular deal would create some new territory due to the $230MM fully guaranteed sum. The Browns do not need Watson’s permission to reshuffle money on his deal, Florio notes. Watson is on Cleveland’s 2023 cap sheet at a record-shattering $54.9MM. A restructure this year could create $33.69MM in cap space, Florio adds. Moving more money onto future caps would create some eye-popping figures, but it is a route the Browns can take to create cap space this year. Cleveland is currently more than $14MM over the cap.
  • Bailey Zappe‘s cameo as a Patriots starter caused became a storyline briefly last season, and while Mac Jones won his job back, Jeff Howe of The Athletic notes Zappe will have a chance to push Jones for the job in 2023 (subscription required). After a record-setting season at Western Kentucky, Zappe completed 70.7% of his passes and won both his starts as a Patriot. Jones helped Bill O’Brien learn Alabama’s system back in 2021, when the former was preparing for the draft, so it would be interesting to see if Zappe will cause a legitimate QB controversy this year.
  • The Jets are interested in bringing back Mike White, but they are expected to have some competition. Other teams are interested in adding the popular Jet as an option to compete for a role, Garafolo notes (video link). This could be as a bridge option for a team planning to draft a quarterback. The Jets have zeroed in on Aaron Rodgers. If the all-time great does decide he wants in on the Big Apple, White would seemingly be headed elsewhere.

Raiders QB Notes: Lamar, Garoppolo, Rodgers, Mac, Hoyer

After an unusual number of teams have been mentioned as not being interested in Lamar Jackson, the Raiders can be included as a potential suitor. The Silver and Black have not eliminated Jackson or any of the big-name QBs still available, Dianna Russini of tweets.

Jackson would represent the biggest fish left, and the list of teams listed as early stay-aways dwarfs those being connected to the Ravens’ franchise player. The Commanders, Dolphins, Falcons and Panthers have been connected to steering clear of Jackson — at least on the fully guaranteed contract he seeks. The Raiders moved on from Derek Carr and created some cap space as a result, though they still have three skill-position players — Davante Adams, Darren Waller, Hunter Renfrow — tied to extensions.

It would cost the Raiders at least two first-round picks to obtain Jackson from the Ravens, who would have the option to match an offer sheet. The teams could also work out a trade involving another compensation package.

The Raiders’ most logical connection remains Jimmy Garoppolo, who has ties to Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler. The Raiders were mentioned as a potential Garoppolo suitor in January, and many at the Combine voiced an expectation the team will pursue the former Patriots and 49ers passer, Dan Graziano of notes.

Garoppolo still might be a backup plan, with Aaron Rodgers rumblings surfacing again. The Jets are currently meeting with the future Hall of Famer, but Graziano adds McDaniels has long respected him. Pushback regarding the Raiders’ Rodgers interest has also emerged, and McDaniels indicated an aim to develop a young passer. Rodgers would not qualify as a bridge option like Garoppolo, as a trade for the Packers great would be for a Super Bowl run. Garoppolo, conversely, could be used as a high-end placeholder.

The Jets have made their interest in Rodgers crystal clear, and the Packers greenlit an all-hands-on-deck Jets recruiting effort Tuesday in California. The Raiders have kept their cards closer to the vest. Way back when Rodgers dropped his initial trade-request bombshell on the league — in April 2021 — the Raiders joined the Broncos as being an acceptable destination. Much has changed in Las Vegas since. Jon Gruden making a controversial exit that ultimately led to McDaniels and Ziegler taking over, but that duo signed off on a blockbuster trade for Adams. Rodgers attempted to convince Adams to stay in Green Bay last year, but the longtime Carr ally had made up his mind.

In the event Rodgers removes himself from the Jets’ equation, Garoppolo would have an apparent path to New York. But he spent the first three-plus seasons of his career in McDaniels’ offense. After the new Raiders power duo deemed Carr an iffy fit for McDaniels’ attack, a familiar face running the show would be a logical move for the team.

On the familiarity front, Graziano also mentions chatter about the Raiders having interest in acquiring Mac Jones while adding the Patriots are unlikely to move him. Jones regressed last season and fared better under McDaniels compared to Matt Patricia, but the Pats appear prepared to see how their 2021 first-rounder looks in Bill O’Brien‘s offense. The Raiders have eyes on another ex-Patriot, however, with the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin adding Brian Hoyer would be on McDaniels’ radar as a mentor-type presence. But Hoyer is leaning toward retiring, per Volin. McDaniels worked with Hoyer, 37, from 2017-18 and again from 2020-21. The former Patriots UDFA has been in the NFL since 2008.

The Raiders have begun talks to bring back Jarrett Stidham, who has been a McDaniels pupil at every step of his NFL career. With only ex-UDFA Chase Garbers under contract with the Silver and Black, the team will continue to be connected to big names and/or a first-round investment at the game’s premier position.

Patriots Notes: Coaching, Meyers, Lawing

The Patriots offense was in disarray in 2022, and Andrew Callahan and Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald provided us with a peek behind the dysfunctional curtain. According to the report, the Patriots’ season was filled with tension on the offensive side of the ball, particularly between Mac Jones and coach Joe Judge.

The issues started in the spring, when Jones irked Patriots brass by indicating that he would be teaching the offense to his new quarterbacks coach. While the players and coaches would ultimately work together “in good faith,” the team was unable to overcome the shortcomings of Judge and de facto offensive coordinator Matt Patricia. The duo tried a simplified approach to Sean McVay’s offense in Los Angeles, but this resulted in an incomplete and underwhelming catalogue of plays.

“A lot of guys were getting worried because when we were in the middle of camp, we were wondering what the plan was for our offense. Because we hadn’t put enough install in,” a source told the Boston Herald. “We had a couple protections, a couple core run plays, but our pass game didn’t have much in it.”

While Patricia seemed to garner most of the criticism, the Boston Herald points a finger at Judge. Bill Belichick would later phase Judge out of the offense, but not before frustrations boiled over. Per the report, both Jones and Belichick got into shouting matches with the former special teams coordinator, and there were even occasions where positional coaches would have to correct Judge’s mistakes.

Ultimately, the relationships that underpinned “the offense became so strained, they engendered internal doubt” about Belichick’s decision making. The head coach was quick to make changes following the season; shortly after announcing that they’d be conducting an offensive coordinator search, the Patriots hired Bill O’Brien to fill the role. Still, both Judge and Patricia are expected to be back in 2023.

More notes out of New England…

  • Speaking of, Belichick had a much larger role on offense than he let on, according to Albert Breer of The head coach was “active on the headsets” during games, providing the same “oversight over the offense that he’d traditionally had over the defense.” Belichick even had a stint “moonlighting” as the offensive play-caller, which resulted in the offense occasionally looking “messy from an operational standpoint.”
  • For what it’s worth, Patricia’s contract has expired, according to Breer. This provides the coach with an open opportunity to pursue a different role elsewhere, something he may consider since he’s already facing a reduced role in New England. Tight ends coach Nick Caley also has an expiring contract, but Breer says the coach still has a chance to return to New England. Caley has received several OC interviews, including an interview for the Patriots job.
  • Top receiver Jakobi Meyers played through a small tear in his knee this past year, per Callahan and Guregian. Despite the inconsistent Patriots offense, Meyers continued to produce in 2022, topping 800 receiving yards for the second-straight season while also establishing a new career-high in touchdown receptions (six). The former undrafted free agent is set to hit free agency this offseason and should be in line for a significant pay day as one of the top available players at his position.
  • O’Brien is already starting to add to his new offensive staff. According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss (on Twitter), the Patriots are adding Will Lawing to their offensive staff. The 37-year-old coach has worked alongside O’Brien at multiple stops, including Penn State, Alabama, and the Texans. Lawing held multiple roles during his time in the NFL, including tight ends coach. He spent the past two seasons as an offensive analyst at Alabama.

Patriots To Start QB Mac Jones On Sunday

Despite his curious benching on Monday night, Mac Jones will be under center for the Patriots when they take the field on Sunday. According to ESPN’s Field Yates (via Twitter), the second-year pro will start this weekend against the Jets.

Jones took about 90 percent of the first-team reps at practice today, a solid indication that he’ll get the starting nod over starter Bailey Zappe. Earlier today, coach Bill Belichick continued to fan the flames when he refused to elaborate on the team’s quarterback position, noting that the Patriots would see “how it goes” at practice today (via Chad Graff and Jeff Howe of The Athletic). Apparently Jones showed enough to earn the starting nod on Sunday.

The 2021 first-round pick returned from a high ankle sprain to start Monday’s game, but he was benched after only one quarter in favor of his rookie teammate. Belichick has refused to attribute the benching to Jones’ performance, with the coach instead claiming it was always New England’s intent to play both QBs in their game against the Bears. Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus provides some more insight, writing that Jones’ injury factored into the decision and the QB was aware of his limited role heading into Monday night. The team intended to get Jones back in the game but the score got out of hand, allowing Zappe to finish the contest. Kyed also expresses skepticism that the Patriots would roll with a platoon at the position.

Of course, even if Belichick and the Patriots are being sincere, this won’t stop pundits from speculating about the situation. Some have suggested that the Patriots could be preparing for a future without Jones, citing the QB’s alleged attitude and ego. However, Howe rejects that notion, and in a separate article, he writes that the organization “bungled” this ordeal with their franchise quarterback.

It’s been an ugly start to the 2022 campaign for Jones. Following a rookie campaign that saw him guide New England to the playoffs and earn a Pro Bowl nod, Jones has led the Patriots to a 1-3 record in four starts this year, completing 65 percent of his passes for 799 yards, two touchdowns, and six interceptions. For comparison’s sake, Zappe has completed 70.7 percent of his passes for 781 yards, five touchdowns, and three interceptions, with the Patriots going 2-0 in his two starts.

Patriots To Promote LB Jamie Collins; QB Mac Jones Expected To Start In Week 7

When the Patriots host the Bears tonight, they will have a familiar face available on defense. New England is elevating linebacker Jamie Collins from the practice squad, as noted by NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero (Twitter link).

The 33-year-old signed with the Patriots earlier this month, beginning his fourth stint with the team. That was a taxi squad deal, but it was expected he would find himself on the 53-man roster sooner than later. The nine-year veteran’s lone Pro Bowl came with New England in 2015. More recently, he finished the 2021 campaign with the Patriots, where he played a backup and special teams role.

Collins will join a linebacking corps which saw plenty of turnover in the offseason. The departures of Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower left plenty of snaps available to the likes of Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jahlani TavaiHow Collins slots in at the position’s rotation with those two, along with Raekwon McMillan and Mack Wilson, will be worth watching and could dictate whether he is signed to the active roster on a full-time basis.

Pelissero also reports, meanwhile, that Mac Jones is expected to start tonight. Doing so would mark a return to the field after he missed the past three contests. It would also be in line with the timetable the 2021 first-rounder stated last week that he would follow.

Jones’ high ankle sprain is not believed to have healed in full, as indicated by his continued limited practices. Still, Jones took at least 90% of the Pats’ practice reps leading up to this interconference matchup, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk tweets. It would seem he is closer to full strength than the consistent “limited” designations would suggest.

Jones will resume a sophomore NFL campaign that has not started off particularly well. Prior to his late-September injury, the former national championship-winning passer threw three interceptions in a loss to the Ravens. Bailey Zappe‘s surprisingly productive play led some to wonder if the Patriots would slow-play their starter’s return. But Zappe will head back to the bench. With Brian Hoyer (concussion) still on IR, Zappe stands to be Jones’ backup against the Bears.

Mac Jones Expects To Return In Week 7

The Patriots have been without their starting quarterback for three games, but Mac Jones has progressed in his recovery from a high ankle sprain. He has improved to the point he expects to be available against the Bears on Monday, Mike Reiss of reports.

Jones did not practice in the week immediately after his injury but has gotten in six limited workouts since. The Patriots begin their run of pre-Week 7 workouts Thursday. Jones moving to a full practice will put Bill Belichick to a decision: start Jones at perhaps less than 100% or stick with Bailey Zappe, who is now 2-0 as the Pats’ first-stringer.

The expectation for a bit has been Jones would be cleared to play against the Bears in Week 7, Albert Breer of adds. Jones broke through as a rookie, helping the Patriots back to the playoffs and finishing the season with (by far) the best QBR figure among rookie passers. Playing in a new offense this season, Jones began his sophomore effort a bit off his rookie-year pace. With Zappe performing surprisingly well — considering his fourth-round status — Ben Volin of the Boston Globe believes the Pats do suddenly have a quarterback controversy.

While Zappe is coming off games in which he completed 81% of his passes (a 29-0 Patriots win over the Lions) and a 309-yard road performance (New England’s 38-15 win in Cleveland), those wins were against teams with the 32nd- and 30th-ranked defenses, respectively. Zappe set a Division I-FBS touchdown pass record during his one season at Western Kentucky, totaling 62 in a pass-crazed system, but has taken to the new Patriots system better than could be expected from a rookie chosen 137th overall.

Although Jones threw three interceptions during his most recent start — a Week 3 loss to the Ravens — and has five picks on the season, it would be surprising if the Pats did not turn back to their starter when he was ready. The expectation is the Pats will turn back to Jones, Breer adds, with Jeff Howe of the Athletic also offering (via Twitter) the team will give Jones the reins back when he is cleared. But Zappe has bought them some time to at least wait for their starter to fully recover.