It’s September, just a day removed from NFL Week 1, and we’re already well into a season’s worth of quarterbacking drama here in New England. The latest episode comes from reporter Jordan Schultz, who noted on Twitter that the Patriots are working out a quarterback on Wednesday: former Saints signal-caller Ian Book, the well-decorated Notre Dame star.
Book worked out for the 49ers on Tuesday, according to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero.
Going back to the NFL’s 53-man cut down day two weeks ago, the Patriots have been rife with upheaval behind center, though the good news for the team is that Mac Jones has established himself, again, as the team’s clear No. 1 guy after considerable upheaval in the past year.
The question of Jones’ backup is less certain. Book is at least under consideration to land somewhere on the depth chart. He has one start to his career credit, in 2021 for New Orleans. The Saints lost that game and Book went 12-for-20 passing with 135 yards and two interceptions.
Book was one of the most decorated quarterbacks in the history of Notre Dame, a place with an extensive history of quarterbacks. He led the Fighting Irish to a 12-0 regular-season record in 2018 and the school’s first-ever NCAA football playoff appearance, where they lost to Clemson. In 2020, he set a school record for most wins as a quarterback and he wound up second in ND history with 72 touchdown passes.
The Saints chose him in the fourth round of the 2021 NFL draft. He was waived in the summer of 2022, and was in training camp with the Eagles this year, but failed to make the roster.
Patriots Shocked NFL with QB Moves
The Patriots’ big decision on cut down day appeared to be whether to keep three quarterbacks, with Jones as the starter and last year’s backup Bailey Zappe (a 2022 fourth-round pick) behind him. Impressive undrafted free agent Malik Cunningham was the potential third man.
Instead, the Patriots shocked the NFL by cutting both Zappe and Cunningham, exposing them to waivers. Both players cleared waivers and were signed to the practice squad. The Patriots were rumored to be looking for an established veteran behind Jones, and were connected to former Cardinals quarterback Colt McCoy and 35-year-old Texans backup Case Keenum, per Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated.
But when the Panthers released Matt Corral, a 2022 third-round pick who was injured last season, the Patriots scooped him up.
Problem solved … until Corral went AWOL on the Pats at the end of last week, failing to show up for practices or team meetings for two days, according to multiple reports.
“He’s in exempt status, and I don’t have any comment on it,” Belichick said after the Patriots’ Week 1 loss. “That’s a personal matter.”
Thus, it was back to Zappe as the backup, and that’s where the Patriots stand now. Zappe was added back to the 53-man roster, and according to ESPN Patriots insider Mike Reiss, he’s essentially back on his original contract.
Wrote Reiss: “Contract note on QB Bailey Zappe: The contract he signed to the Patriots’ 53-man roster covers the next three years, so it’s essentially picking back up on his old rookie contract. Base salaries of $870k in 2023; $985k in 2024; and $1.1m in 2025.”
Jones and Zappe are likely the tandem in New England, for now. But they’ll at least take a look at Book.