Coming into the season, there was a lot of optimism surrounding Mac Jones, the 2021 first-round pick of the New England Patriots that outplayed every other quarterback in his draft class. He helped lead the Patriots back into the postseason and the work he put in during his second NFL offseason was praised by the coaches.
However, an injury to Jones and then an injury to veteran Brian Hoyer opened the door for rookie Bailey Zappe to step into the lineup. Zappe shocked everyone with his performance on the road against the Green Bay Packers in Week 4 before leading the team on back-to-back victories over the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns.
Jones got the start on Monday Night Football against the Chicago Bears in Week 7 but was quickly pulled from the game. Zappe came on in relief and played well once again. Could the Patriots have a quarterback controversy on their hands?
While Jones is going to get the start this week against the New York Jets, he will likely be on a short leash again. If he comes out the gate slowly and makes uncharacteristic decisions once again, his future with the team could be in jeopardy.
Could the Patriots seriously consider moving on from a quarterback selected in the first round after two seasons? That would get most people fired, but Bill Belichick has free reign over the roster and if he deems that the right decision to make, it will get done.
Where could Jones end up then? How about the Las Vegas Raiders, who are doing their best to become Patriots-west? Las Vegas hired Dave Ziegler away from New England to run their front office and he brought Josh McDaniels along with him to be the head coach.
Derek Carr is currently the starter in Las Vegas, but his contract is essentially on a year-to-year basis. If Jones became available and the Raiders wanted to make a move, they would have the capabilities to do so.
Mac Jones looked good as a rookie playing in McDaniels’ offense, so he could be interested in working with him once again. The Raiders have a lot more weapons than New England did as well with All-Pro wide receiver Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller to throw the ball to. Josh Jacobs, whose fifth-year option was declined, has been one of the best running backs in the NFL this season.
Familiarity could do Jones some good, as he has looked lost on the field this season. Getting some draft capital would enable Belichick to take a swing at another quarterback in the draft or try and acquire a veteran who may become available on the quarterback carousel as we saw in the 2022 offseason.