Mac Jones, the New England Patriots’ fifteenth total decide within the 2021 NFL Draft, is not a lock to be the Patriots’ beginning quarterback in 2023, in keeping with head coach Bill Belichick.
Not solely may Jones lose his spot as New England’s starter, however he may very well be carrying a special jersey in 2023, coming into his third NFL season. Even although there have been studies that the Patriots see Jones as their future at quarterback, Belichick is offended with Jones, particularly his use of teaching exterior of the crew amid a dysfunctional season through which longtime defensive coach Matt Patricia was the offensive play-caller in 2022, per NBC Sports. Belichick has reportedly even been the initiator of inside discussions to commerce Jones in the course of the offseason, in keeping with ProFootballTalk.
With that in thoughts, listed here are 10 potential successors to Jones in New England within the occasion the Patriots observe by and commerce him:
Free company choices
Signing 30-year-old Carson Wentz could be akin to what the Patriots did in 2020 once they signed then-31-year-old Cam Newton: paying an injury-riddled, former top-two total draft decide for previous manufacturing. Wentz accomplished 62.3% of his passes for 1,755 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, and an 80.2 passer score final season. He misplaced his job in Washington below Ron Rivera, Newton’s former longtime head coach, after a finger harm on his throwing hand induced him to overlook time. Backup quarterback Taylor Heinicke got here in off the bench and gained over the locker room, a standard incidence in Wentz’s profession.
This is the transfer if Belichick and firm are looking forward to the 2024 NFL Draft, which is able to seemingly have a quarterback class that features 2022 Heisman Trophy winner and USC quarterback Caleb Williams, in addition to North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye.
At 30 years outdated, Teddy Bridgewater has developed into the stable, but unspectacular mentor/backup part of his profession. He threw 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions in 5 video games (two begins) in 2022. Bridgewater tossed one landing and one interception whereas throwing for 161 yards on 12 of 19 passing in a 23-21 Dolphins loss on the Patriots in his final begin. He needed to depart the sport with an injured finger on his throwing hand. Bridgewater would make sense for New England if it drafts somebody it thinks ought to begin the yr on the bench earlier than being thrown into the deep finish towards NFL defenses.
Lions head coach Dan Campbell appeared to squash the thought of buying and selling Jared Goff when he downplayed the thought of buying and selling for Lamar Jackson on the NFL house owners conferences in Phoenix final week.
“Look, Lamar is a heck of a expertise,” Campbell stated of Jackson, by way of Pro Football Talk. “Trying to defend that man has been one thing else. We performed them two years in the past. But, man, we have a quarterback. So, I’m like, ‘We’ve obtained a quarterback, and thank God we obtained one.”
Goff caught hearth within the Lions’ remaining 9 video games of the season, as Detroit gained seven of them to narrowly miss out on the playoffs. He threw 15 touchdowns and no interceptions in a span that included a Lions report 324 consecutive passes with an interception. Thanks to that second-half sizzling streak, Goff’s 29-7 touchdown-interception ratio led the NFL. At 28 years outdated, he seems to have made one other leap in his profession alongside offensive coordinator Ben Johnson.
Jared Goff Lions profession
Even with all that stated, Campbell did not shut the door on drafting a passing prospect who would symbolize an improve over Goff. After all, the Lions have the draft capital, with two picks (sixth and 18th) within the prime 20 of the 2023 NFL Draft.
“I’d say this, this yr, as with most, you are all the time seeking to improve,” Campbell stated. “And free company has given us the flexibility in areas to, man, we are able to do no matter we have to do within the draft. We really feel fairly good about that. We do not feel compelled to do something. So with that, I’d say, man, it does not matter what the place is. If we are able to improve our crew prime to backside, we’ll try this.”
Should Florida’s Anthony Richardson fall to sixth when the Lions are on the clock, who is aware of what may occur. That’s in all probability the one state of affairs through which Goff modifications groups this offseason.
The soon-to-be 35-year-old Ryan Tannehill took an absolute beating final season. He suffered two accidents to his proper ankle in a 17-14 loss towards the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 15, and his ankle required season-ending surgical procedure to get wholesome once more. The Titans are shifting out of the window of rivalry, as they misplaced their remaining seven video games of the season to overlook the playoffs at 7-10 in 2022 after beginning the yr 7-3. The 2021 season through which they have been the AFC’s prime total seed looks like a lifetime in the past.
With Derrick Henry coming into the ultimate yr of his four-year, $50 million contract in 2023, the Titans may look to tear off the band-aid and commerce each Tannehill and Henry if the compensation is true. Tennessee could be finest served beginning contemporary with a top-pick quarterback in 2024.
Trey Lance is a thriller field. A damaged ankle ended his 2022 season, the primary through which he was the 49ers’ designated starter, after simply two video games. Unfortunately for him, Brock Purdy got here off the bench and gained his first seven begins, prompting basic supervisor John Lynch to say Purdy is “in all probability the chief within the within the clubhouse” to be the San Francisco 49ers Week 1 starter in 2023. Even with Purdy’s elbow harm, San Francisco introduced in Sam Darnold, the previous third total decide within the 2018 NFL Draft, to compete for the beginning quarterback job alongside Lance.
Buying low and buying Lance now may give Belichick an opportunity to mould a younger, top-three-overall-pick expertise at quarterback whereas he is nonetheless on his rookie deal. Sounds like a win-win for each events.
Will Levis has one of many strongest arms in your complete 2023 NFL Draft, so if he slides to 14th total, the place the Patriots are choosing, he is likely to be value a glance. He must fine-tune his brief and intermediate passing accuracy, however fundamentals are what Belichick is all about.
Hendon Hooker was on tempo to win the 2022 Heisman Trophy earlier than a torn ACL towards South Carolina late within the season derailed Tennessee’s hopes and goals. Hooker operates extraordinarily effectively when making fast throws, one thing the Patriots offense was heavy in a season in the past. His contact on his deep throws is pristine, and his athleticism offers him a good skill to throw on the run. Coming off the ACL harm, Hooker may very well be out there within the second spherical.
Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee has NFL measurement at 6-foot-6 and 231 kilos, in addition to NFL, pro-style offense familiarity after working an NFL, under-center playbook in faculty. He has robust energy on his throws, however distinctive throwing mechanics can develop into an issue when the pocket collapses since he is not very cell. McKee may very well be round on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
Max Duggan, the 2022 Heisman Trophy runner-up, had Bill Belichick’s full consideration at TCU’s Pro Day on March 30, because the coach obtained into his trademark sideline stance whereas intently monitoring every of Duggan’s throws. He has all of the intangibles Belichick appreciates, plus the mobility and arm energy to achieve as we speak’s NFL. Duggan is engaged on tightening up his throwing movement with renown quarterback coach Jordan Palmer, one thing that was obvious together with his robust deep passing at his professional Day. Duggan may very well be a Belichick Day 3 particular.
Bailey Zappe, a fourth-round decide by the Patriots within the 2022 NFL Draft, had Patriots followers chanting for him to be Mac Jones’ full-time substitute after finishing 73% of his passes for 596 yards, 4 touchdowns, one interception and a 111.4 passer score in his first three video games. Two of these have been begins, a 29-0 win versus the Lions and a 38-15 win on the Browns. After there was miscommunication about Belichick enjoying each Jones and Zappe in a 33-14 loss on “Monday Night Football” towards the Bears, Jones totally regained his beginning spot, resulting in Zappe driving the bench the remainder of the season.
If the Patriots do not need to add any extra bills to the roster or give away draft picks for an improve, Zappe may very well be satisfactory because the starter in 2023 if totally given first-team reps.
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