FOXBORO — The Mac Jones era may be nearing and end for the New England Patriots.
The much-maligned Pats former 2021 first-round pick (no. 15 overall) is likely to become a trade candidate at the start of the NFL year in March, per a Sunday report from NFL Network.
“Even though Bill Belichick is gone, Mac Jones — who lost the starting role and ended up third string by the end of the 2023 season — is a trade candidate in the coming weeks and most likely will end up elsewhere for the 2024 season,” wrote NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
After starting 11 games this season, Jones was displaced by Bailey Zappe as New England’s starter prior to the team’s Week 12 matchup with the Los Angeles Chargers — a game which they lost 6-0. He did not play a single snap for the rest of the season. In fact, Jones ended the season as the emergency third option on the depth chart for the Pats’ 17-3 loss to the New York Jets in their season-finale Gillette Stadium.
Despite an impressive rookie year, Jones has since struggled to recapture his previous success. During his inaugural campaign, Jones led all rookies with a 67.6 completion percentage and a 92.5 passer rating. He compiled 3,801 yards and 22 touchdowns — while completing at least 70 percent of his attempts in nine of New England’s games. For his efforts, Jones earned a selection to the Pro Bowl, as well as a spot on the PFWA's All-Rookie team, while leading the Pats to the playoffs.
Jones’ struggles began to surface in earnest during his second season. From a high ankle injury sidelining him for three games last October, to his palpable his discontent with the Pats offensive system under de factor coordinator Matt Patricia, Jones toiled through a campaign in which he ranked in the bottom 10 of NFL quarterbacks in completion percentage and positive plays when pressured.
The hiring of new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, prior to the start of this season, was expected to bring both Jones and the Pats offense back to the “basics” of football. However, Jones’ difficulties only continued to snowball. Through his 11 games in 2023, the 25-year-old completed 224 passes for 2,120 yards, with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. The Pats 2021 first-round (No. 15 overall) draft selection routinely exhibited an inability to make sound decisions when most-needed. His struggles led to a foundering of both his confidence and his mechanics — as well as his being benched in five of New England’s games.
Though Jones’ regression ultimately led to an irreparable relationship with Belichick, seedlings of optimism began to surface with the arrival of New England’s new regime. With Mayo hiring a new slate of coaches on offense — namely Alex Van Pelt as offensive coordinator — Jones’ reclamation in an “new look” offense appeared to be an option for the team at quarterback for the upcoming season.
Though his fate has yet to be sealed, it is becoming more evident that Jones has likely played his final down in a Patriots uniform.