Patriots Urged to Trade Promising Quarterback

Robert Kraft

Getty Patriots owner Robert Kraft could improve his roster with a Bailey Zappe trade.

The New England Patriots could erase any remaining quarterback speculation between Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe with a simple move.

Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox proposed that the Patriots trade Zappe before the season. While Jones remains the clear-cut starter entering his third year, Zappe impressed enough in 2022 to challenge Jones.

“Quarterbacks are always valuable, and Zappe showed promise, going 2-0 and posting a 100.9 passer rating,” Knox wrote in a story published in June. “[Bill] Belichick has a history of trading backups who have flashed — like Matt Cassel, Jacoby Brissett and Jimmy Garoppolo — and could do the same with Zappe.”

Jones emerged as the “unquestioned starter” in mandatory minicamp last month per’s Evan Lazar, but Zappe showed more flashes of promise. Last season, it looked like a tug-of-war between whether to play Jones or Zappe amid Jones’ injury and second-year struggles in 2022.

“As the old saying goes, if you have two quarterbacks, you don’t truly have one,” Knox wrote. “While New England could consider moving Jones instead of Zappe, it would have a hard time getting fair compensation after his sophomore regression. Getting a middle-round pick back for Zappe, who was himself a fourth-round selection, wouldn’t be as difficult.”

Trade Possibilities for the Patriots

New England could trade with a team that could use an upgrade at backup quarterback, and multiple squads fit that bill.

The Detroit Lions could use help at backup as rookie Hendon Hooker is recovering from an ACL tear from his senior season at Tennessee in 2022. The Arizona Cardinals likewise have injury issues with backup Colt McCoy.

Similarly, the Cincinnati Bengals could also upgrade over backup Trevor Siemian amid recent injuries and on-field struggles. The Chicago Bears could use a boost at backup over P.J. Walker, and the Las Vegas Raiders ironically could use another former Patriots quarterback amid Garoppolo’s foot injury.

New England wouldn’t empty the cupboard in the quarterback room by trading Zappe. The Patriots have backup Trace McSorely and rookie Malik Cunningham, Knox noted. Cunningham spent time at receiver for minicamp but played quarterback throughout college at Louisville.

On the flip side, the Patriots have key roster needs to fill before the season such as offensive tackle and cornerback. A trade could help with that in clearing salary cap space to sign free agents at both positions and still land possibly both wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and running back Dalvin Cook.

Mac Jones ‘Hit It Off’ With New Patriots OC

Jones indeed entered 2023 on the hot seat after throwing for 14 touchdowns versus 11 interceptions in 2022. The new addition of Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien could help in the long run, and it already did in mandatory minicamp last month.

“O’Brien and the Patriots’ starting quarterback have hit it off since reacquainting in Foxboro, and Jones has looked much more comfortable running a familiar system,” The Atheltic’s Jeff Howe wrote on June 14. “There weren’t any extensive teaching sessions between practice periods at this week’s minicamp, which is already an improvement from Matt Patricia’s offense in 2022.”

“The organization and execution have been crisper, though the Patriots’ rapidly improving defense was visibly operating at a more advanced pace,” Howe added. “But that’s what happens when one unit has a decisive edge in experience.”