Like Bill Belichick, it appears the New England Patriots are also looking to move on from their quarterback, Mac Jones.
The Patriots are ushering in a new era of football following Belichick’s departure, and with Jerod Mayo in as head coach, New England is expected to trade Jones this offseason with eyes set on their high draft pick, per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
New England owns the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, and this year’s class of prospects is quarterback heavy. Many believe several quarterbacks taken in the Draft will be franchise signal callers for years to come.
Considering Jones was benched multiple times in back-to-back seasons with Belichick on the sideline, his status as the team’s franchise quarterback was in limbo. He ended up being the team’s third string quarterback toward the end of the 2023 season, a year where he continued his regression.
“Even though Bill Belichick is gone, Mac Jones – who lost the starting role and ended up third string by the end of the 2023 season – is a trade candidate in the coming weeks and most likely will end up elsewhere for the 2024 season,” Rapoport wrote on Sunday. “… All indications are they’ll seriously explore taking one of the draft’s top [quarterbacks] as they move into the Jerod Mayo era.”
It appears the top quarterbacks for many talent evaluators in this year’s draft are USC’s Caleb Williams, UNC’s Drake Maye and LSU’s Jayden Daniels. Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy, who is coming off a national championship, is also in discussion for the first round.
Williams appears to be the frontrunner to go first overall, which the Chicago Bears own at the moment. The Washington Commanders, who are expected to be in the quarterback market as well, will pick second before the Patriots go on the clock.
Either way, the Patriots will have the option to take one of the “Big Three” on the draft board.
Jones was a first-round pick out of Alabama in 2021, going 15th overall to the delight of Belichick, and everything started off on the right foot. He helped lead the Patriots to a playoff appearance in his rookie year, throwing for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns to 13 interceptions and a 10-7 record during the regular season.
New England ended up losing that playoff game to the Buffalo Bills, but following the departure of Patriots legend Tom Brady, the New England area believed Jones could be their next franchise quarterback who could continue to thrive under Belichick.
But that turned sour in 2022 when Jones saw a major regression, passing for just 14 touchdowns to 11 interceptions and going 6-8 over 14 games.
Belichick’s leash on Jones became clear in Week 7 of that season, when Jones was benched after a horrific half against the Chicago Bears. Bailey Zappe, who led the Patriots to two straight wins in the prior weeks, came in at halftime to replace Jones.
Yet, Jones started every game for New England the rest of the 2022 season. However, 2023 saw an even worse overall performance by Jones and the entire Patriots offense.
He went 2-9 as a starter, throwing 10 passing touchdowns to 12 interceptions over 11 starts. Belichick pulled the plug on Jones after Week 12’s loss to the New York Giants, where he was benched at halftime in a 10-7 defeat on the road.
Jones wouldn’t play the rest of the year.
“I’m looking forward to the next opportunity,” Jones said following his third NFL season. “I know it’s gonna come, but at the end of the day, as a quarterback and a competitor, you have to be ready, right? So I’m gonna be ready.”
Jones said he loves New England, but his future appears to be trending elsewhere as the Patriots will see if they can find a trade suitor before heading into April’s Draft.