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USA Today Sports Media Group
Jordy McElroy

6 veteran QB options for Patriots if Mac Jones is traded

The New England Patriots aren’t expected to trade Mac Jones, but a report has indicated the starting quarterback’s name has been brought up in conversations with multiple teams.

Combining that news with the reported drama in the 2022 season between Jones and coach Bill Belichick makes it hard to completely dismiss the possibility of the Patriots moving on from their former first-round draft pick.

What would happen if New England went that route?

They could always draft another quarterback and start that developmental journey all over again, or they could seek a veteran replacement to try and keep the ship afloat, while they look for the next player to captain the ship.

Here are six veteran options at quarterback for the Patriots, if they decide to move on from Jones.

Lamar Jackson

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The best case scenario for the Patriots if they end up moving on from Mac Jones is finding a way to incorporate that trade into a deal with the Baltimore Ravens for Lamar Jackson.

Going from Jones to Jackson would be an instant upgrade for the Patriots. They’d suddenly have a former league MVP at the most important position on the field.

Of course, it would also cost them a fortune, and they might have to move some noteworthy talent to make the numbers fit. But it would be worth it for a 26-year-old player talented enough to reshape the entire offense.

Kirk Cousins

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Kirk Cousins turns 35 years old this year, and he’s entering the final year of his contract with the Minnesota Vikings. The Patriots could try to initiate a trade.

No, this wouldn’t be some masterstroke of a move for Belichick, but he could do much worse than Cousins, who is still a mid-tier quarterback in the NFL. If anything, this move would help the Patriots bridge the gap if Zappe isn’t ready.

Cousins is the king at getting guaranteed money on contracts, and he’s in a situation right now where the Vikings haven’t fully committed to him. This could be a bad, but necessary, reach for the Patriots.


Bailey Zappe

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The obvious answer for the Patriots might already be on the roster.

Bailey Zappe stepped up in a big way for the team when Mac Jones was injured last season. Maybe he’s ready to do so on a more permanent basis.

Granted, there’s a huge difference between filling in under center in a pinch and being deemed the starter moving forward. Zappe was the third string quarterback on the Patriots’ roster until Brian Hoyer suffered a head injury.

We don’t know a lot about his game, but he looked promising as a rookie in a bad offense. With a year under his belt, he could make a significant leap.


Carson Wentz

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One would think Bailey Zappe would get the nod before the Patriots start having to turn to leftover backups in free agency. So this is more of an emergency option if Zappe doesn’t pan out as a starter or if he gets hurt.

There was a time when Carson Wentz was looked at as one of the future elite quarterbacks in the league, but that feels like a century ago at this point. Wentz has bounced between three different teams within the last three years, and he’s currently looking for his fourth opportunity.

Even if he isn’t projected as a starter, he would still be a solid backup for the Patriots in a scenario where Mac Jones is no longer on the roster.

Cam Newton

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Cam Newton spent an entire season as the starting quarterback for the Patriots. So there’s at least some familiarity from both sides on what this marriage would look like.

Newton was clearly a declining athlete when the Patriots got him, but they also failed to put the necessary weapons around him to have much of a shot at succeeding. He might not be interested in backing up Bailey Zappe. So that might also be a hurdle the Patriots would have to overcome to sign Newton.

But then again, there’s always the possibility that the situation with Zappe implodes and the team needs to make a spur of the moment decision. That’s when going back to Newton might make the most sense.

Tom Brady

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What more perfect ending to Tom Brady’s legendary NFL career than finishing it out in a Patriots uniform?

Okay, maybe I’m just speaking from a fan perspective.

This is without question the biggest longshot option on this list considering Brady is likely done playing football for good. But it would be in Belichick’s best interest to at least pick up the phone and try in this scenario.

He might have to do some groveling to repair burned bridges, but it would be worth it to take the attention off the break-up with Jones. If he could somehow sign Brady, all would be forgiven by the fans in New England.

Of course, he’d have to convince Brady it would be worth his while to even return to the Patriots. He could start by pulling off a blockbuster trade at receiver for DeAndre Hopkins or Jerry Jeudy.

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