Lions Urged to Sign Ex-Patriots QB After Surprise Release

Bailey Zappe

Getty Bailey Zappe feels more comfortable in Year 2.

The Detroit Lions have a new vacancy at quarterback, and one insider suggests they could fill it by targeting a surprise release from the New England Patriots.

The Lions entered the offseason with backup Nate Sudfeld and rookie Hendon Hooker working behind starter Jared Goff, but neither made it to the final roster as both suffered injuries and the Lions ultimately brought in a new No. 2. Veteran quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, a latecomer to training camp, ended up earning the backup job as Sudfeld suffered a torn ACL and Hooker is still rehabbing his own torn ACL suffered last season.

With just two healthy quarterbacks on the roster and no signal caller for the practice squad, USA Today’s Jeff Risdon suggested that the Lions make a run for Bailey Zappe after his release by the Patriots.

New Option for the Lions

Risdon noted that Zappe made a big impression against the Lions last season, filling in for the injured Mac Jones and leading the Patriots to a 29-0 victory. Zappe’s surprise release on the August 29 roster deadline could give the Lions an intriguing option, Risdon wrote.

“Zappe doesn’t have a great arm and he’s smallish. However, he’s got a quick release, throws very accurately to about 30 yards, and he’s good at finding the best option pre-snap — qualities he shares with Jared Goff,” Risdon wrote. “He’s a much better fit for the practice squad, as the Lions don’t really need a third active QB, but Zappe is better than guys some teams are carrying as their No. 2 QB.”

If the Lions were to make a run at Zappe, it may not be a long-term arrangement. As noted, the Lions chose to have Hooker start the 2023 season on the non-football injury list, eventually coming back to learn under the veterans Bridgewater and Goff.

“A Lions source familiar with the thought process on Hooker said that is not in the Lions’ plans to sit him the entire season and emphasized Hooker is expected to join the roster once healthy,” wrote Detroit Free Press reporter Dave Birkett.

Lions head coach Dan Campbell had already made it clear that Hooker was not in the plans for this season, saying the rookie would be going through a “redshirt year” as he continued through rehab and learned the ropes. Hooker could eventually challenge Goff for the starting job, but it would not be until 2024 at the earliest.

Bailey Zappe Expected to Return to New England

The Lions may need a strong offer if they intend to land Zappe, who cleared waivers and was expected to return to the Patriots’ practice squad.

Despite the expectations that Zappe would stay in New England, Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston noted that he could still choose to sign elsewhere, which would leave the Patriots in a pickle.

“But if Zappe is claimed by another club — or if he wants a fresh start outside the organization that just acknowledged it was OK with losing him — Bill Belichick doesn’t have a bevy of obvious options to play as his No. 2,” Perry wrote.

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