Is Bill Belichick Looking to Trade Mac Jones?

Mac Jones as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2021.

Getty Images Mac Jones celebrates after the 2021 CFP National Championship.

Former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones, who is heading into his third year with the New England Patriots, was shopped to other NFL teams this offseason, according to an April 4 report from Mike Florio of NBCSports.

“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, [Bill] Belichick has shopped Jones to multiple teams during the 2023 offseason,” Florio wrote, saying list of potential buyers is unknown but suggesting the Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Commanders could be interested.

However, in February, Patriots owner Robert Kraft signaled a vote of confidence for Jones during an appearance on Fox Business’ “Cavuto: Coast to Coast,” saying, “We’re blessed to have a great young quarterback in Mac Jones and I’m a strong believer in him and his development.”

A month later, Kraft discussed the idea that the Patriots could trade for Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson and did all but shut down the idea of doing so.”That’s Bill’s [Belichick] decision,” ” target=”_blank”>Kraft said, according to a March 27 Sports Illustrated story.

Mac Jones ‘Really Pissed Bill Off,’ According to Report

Florio’s report came four days after NBC Sports’ Tom E. Curran said that Jones “really pissed Bill off” when he, according to NBC’s Chris Simms, looked outside the Patriots organization for advice.

“As we know, a disloyalty in Bill’s mind is almost worse than bad play,” Curran said on the March 31 episode of WEEI’s “Jones & Mego.” “And Mac, even though you could say, well, it’s ironic, the guy’s trying to get better and he’s wondering, ‘Are we supposed to be doing it this way?’ And asking people around football about it. That effort to improve was showing up the Matt Patricia-Joe Judge contingent and Bill putting them in charge. And when Bill caught wind of it — he’s still pissed about it.”

Jones was looking for counsel as he adjusted to changes in the Patriots’ offensive scheme, according to Simms. Jones was having difficulty replicating his successful 2021 rookie season, when he got a Pro Bowl nod and All-Rookie Honors. But ahead of the 2022 season, Jones’ offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, was hired away by the Las Vegas Raiders. Rather than replacing the coach, Belichick opted to go without a coordinator for the 2022 season, relinquishing offensive coordinator duties to two former defensive coaches, Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.

“Throughout the season, he displayed notable discomfort in New England’s new offensive system under the direction of offensive play-caller Matt Patricia and quarterback coach Joe Judge,” Sports Illustrated’s Mike D’Abate wrote on April 4. “At times, the disconnect between the players and the coaching staff was so overt that Jones was observed hurling expletive-laden frustrations, believed to be in the direction of his coaches.”

In Jones second season, New England finished just 8-9, averaging only 21.4 points per game, and Jones was even benched for rookie Bailey Zappe at various times throughout the year.

What Hiring Bill O’Brien Means to Mac Jones

The Patriots did not bring back of Patricia as a play caller for 2023 and they removed “quarterbacks coach” from Judge’s title. In January, they hired Bill O’Brien as offensive coordinator. O’Brien most recently spent two seasons with Alabama as Bryce Young’s primary coach and play caller, but he is more than familiar with the Patriots, working in New England from 2007 to 2011.

Bill O'Brien

Getty ImagesBill O’Brien speaking with Bryce Young as the offensive coordinator for the Alabama Crimson Tide in 2022.

He previously spent five years on the New England staff from 2007-2011, bouncing around various offensive assistant roles and eventually working his way up to coordinator.

In his time in both the NFL and college football ranks, O’Brien has designed impressive offensive schemes for many different types of quarterbacks, and is well respected for what he brings to the table as a coach.

“O’Brien’s institutional knowledge of the system that Josh McDaniel’s ran with Mac Jones as a rookie in 2021 is as deep as almost anyone’s,” Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer wrote in January. “I’d say there’s a better chance [it works] this year than last.”