Hey, why not? That seems to be the approach to the Patriots’ quarterback spots behind starter Mac Jones this year, so it should come as no surprise that the Patriots added another hey-why-not moment to the ledger this week. Or did they?
They were set to bring back back Matt Corral to the team’s practice squad, according to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald. On Tuesday, Kyed tweeted, “Source: The Patriots are signing QB Matt Corral back to their practice squad. Team gets to keep working with him after he cleared waivers today.”
UPDATE: But wait, there’s more. Later on Wednesday morning, Kyed reported that there is a change of plans when it comes to Corral, saying that now, Corral won’t be joining the practice squad.
That was seconded by MassLive’s Marc Daniels.
Yeah, the same Corral who Boston Sports Journal first reported had gone AWOL around September 8, shortly after he was signed to be Jones’ backup. The same Corral who was supposed to be the Patriots’ surprise curveball move after they shocked the league by waiving both Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham when making their 53-man roster cuts.
Corral had participated in three New England practices but then stopped showing up, The Athletic insider Jeff Howe reported on September 9. The Patriots cut him, as well as recently signed quarterback Ian Book, to start the week.
Corral Not Ready for Backup Role
Corral has talent, and that’s what drew the Pats to him in the first place. But there is precious little else on his register — he has not appeared in an NFL game yet, having suffered a foot injury against the Patriots during a preseason game on August 19, 2022.
Just after the Patriots signed Corral, Panthers beat writer Joe Person of The Athletic talked about it on “Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast.” Even if Corral had no outside issues, just going by his development, it was clear Carolina did not think he was ready for a prominent role.
“The Panthers think he is at least a year away from being someone who can help them if he was pressed into service with an injury or whatever,” Person said. “A lot of that is because he did not run a real complex offense at Ole Miss under (coach) Lane Kiffin. It was not completely simplified but it was not what you would call pro-ready type stuff. Then, he doesn’t get any time last year (because of the injury).”
Personal Issues Weighing on Corral?
Whether Corral can play is one thing, but that question is probably not as important as whatever is going on with him personally. Young players who are in need of opportunities and must show professionalism don’t simply walk out on their teams.
After Corral did not show up for practice, the Patriots placed him on the little-used “exempt/left squad” list. Patriots coach Bill Belichick had little to say on the subject at the time.
“He’s on exempt status. I don’t have any comment on it,” Belichick said in a September 11 press conference when asked about Corral. “That’s a personal matter.”
NBC Sports reporter Albert Breer reported that the issue was “not really a football matter” and that Corral was added to the left squad list rather than released “out of fairness to the kid because he’s been through a lot.”
Whatever that matter is, the Patriots apparently feel Corral has addressed it to their satisfaction. He’s back on the depth chart, but stay tuned: you never know where the Patriots QB drama is going to lead next.