New Details Emerge About Tension Between Bill Belichick & Mac Jones: Report

Bill Belichick speaks to Mac Jones

Getty Patriots head coach Bill Belichick speaks to quarterback Mac Jones.

Things boiled to the point of trade considerations when it came to tensions between New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Mac Jones.

Belichick, who also serves as the team’s general manager essentially, “shopped Jones to multiple teams” this offseason according to a source “with knowledge of the situation” via Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio. The Patriots drafted Jones with the No. 15 pick in 2021, and he performed well as a rookie, but challenges arose amid a difficult 2022 season.

As the Patriots’ offense struggled, Jones and Belichick faced tensions on how to resolve it, according to Florio. Jones also sustained an injury during the season, and backup quarterback Bailey Zappe took off, which created a quarterback controversy. Belichick hasn’t committed to either Jones or Zappe as the starter in 2023.

Potential land spots for Jones, according to Florio, included the Houston Texans, Las Vegas Raiders, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Washington Commanders. Florio noted that no trade yet “doesn’t mean it won’t happen” this offseason.

“A team hoping to draft a quarterback could pivot to Jones, if that team doesn’t get the guy it wants,” Florio wrote. “The Raiders are the ones to keep watching. Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract lands in the low-end of middle class for starters, and Jones has two years left under a slotted rookie deal, before his fifth-year option would apply.”

Garoppolo, a former Patriots backup, has an injury history, which would put the Raiders in the market for a viable second quarterback. He hasn’t played a full season since 2019 with the San Francisco 49ers.

Robert Kraft Supports Mac Jones Despite 2022 Decline

If Belichick moves on from Jones, it could complicate things for the longtime coach with Patriots owner Robert Kraft as Florio noted. The Patriots notably hadn’t picked a quarterback in the first round under Kraft since Drew Bledsoe in 1993 — seven years before Belichick arrived.

“I’m a big fan of Mac,” Kraft told reporters at the NFL Annual Meeting in March. “He came to us as a rookie. He quarterbacked in his rookie season and did a very fine job I thought. We made the playoffs. I think we experimented with some things last year that frankly didn’t work when it came to him, in my opinion.”

Jones succeeded as a rookie in 2021 with 3,801 yards passing for 22 touchdowns versus 13 interceptions. He completed 67.6% of his passes and held a 92.5 quarterback rating.

Many of the things that clicked for Jones under former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels fizzled in 2022. Matt Patricia, a longtime defensive coach, took over as the offensive coordinator, and Jones’ performance dipped.

Jones threw for just 2,997 yards and 14 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions in 2022. He completed 65.2% of his passes and dropped to an 84.8 quarterback rating. The Patriots also slipped back to a losing record and no playoff appearance — a repeat of the state of the team in 2020 before Jones arrived.

A Mac Jones Trade Could Fuel Tensions for Belichick, Kraft

New England already made another change at offensive coordinator this offseason in favor of Jones with Bill O’Brien coming in. O’Brien notably coached Jones in college at Alabama.

“While Kraft continues to defer to Belichick when it comes to running  ‘my football team,’ Kraft may not be thrilled about the prospect of parting ways with Jones,” Florio wrote. “And Kraft seems to be sympathetic to frustrations that trace to the failed offensive experiment in 2022, with Matt Patricia serving as the coordinator.”

If Belichick doesn’t right the ship in 2023, Kraft could be done with Belichick as the head coach, Florio noted. Kraft alluded to it during the NFL Annual Meeting, and Belichick highlighted the franchise’s recent past success in the process.

“The current situation doesn’t feel sustainable,” Florio wrote. “It makes sense to watch how long it’s sustained.”

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