The New England Patriots have reportedly been looking to trade quarterback Mac Jones to potentially pave the way for a move for Lamar Jackson.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been shopping Jones to multiple franchises throughout the 2023 offseason. While the full list of potential destinations or the extent of the negotiations isn’t known, the teams linked with a move include the Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Commanders.
Jones enjoyed an impressive rookie season where he finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year award and was named to the Pro Bowl after leading the Patriots to the playoffs for the first time since Tom Brady joined the Buccaneers. However, he struggled to get to grips with the offence in 2022 as the Pats failed to reach the postseason on the back of his inconsistent play amid poor offensive staff and deteriorating relationship with Belichick.
While a trade hasn’t gone through, the Pats appear very open to the move - perhaps because of the availability of Jackson and the presence of Bailey Zappe on the roster. After Jones went down with an injured ankle in the Week 3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, backup quarterback Brian Hoyer got knocked out of the game against the Green Bay Packers so Zappe stepped in and impressed in several appearances.
In his first career start, the rookie - selected in the fourth round a year ago - led New England to a crushing 29-0 win over the Detroit Lions in Foxborough and he backed it on the road in a 38-15 win over the Cleveland Browns. When Jones was ready to return, many questioned if the 2021 first round pick should immediately get his job back and he ultimately never relinquished the starting job.
One team that could make sense for Jones is the Raiders, as Jimmy Garoppolo’s contract is below average in terms of annual salary for starting quarterbacks while the Pats star has two years left on his rookie deal before the fifth-year option gets triggered. However, New England owner Rob Kraft is a fan of Jones, telling reporters last week: “I’m a big fan of Mac.
“He came to us as a rookie. He quarterbacked in his rookie season and did a very fine job I thought. We made the playoffs. I think we experimented with some things last year that frankly didn’t work when it came to him, in my opinion.”
Kraft appears sympathetic to frustrations linked to the failed offensive experiment as Matt Patricia serving as the coordinator last season. The Patriots struggled on offence in 2022 as they finished 32nd in red zone efficiency - and they could solve their issues with a blockbuster move for Jackson.
Last week, Jackson announced he had requested a trade from the Baltimore Ravens on 2 March. It was the first time this offseason the 2019 MVP addressed his future publicly after Baltimore placed the non-exclusive franchise tag on the dynamic quarterback, which allows him to speak to other franchises but the Ravens can match any contract offer or trade him for a pair of first round picks.
At the NFL’s annual ownership meetings in Arizona, Patriots owner Kraft sensationally revealed hit rapper Meek Mill texted him to claim Jackson wants to play for the Patriots. Kraft - who has a close relationship with Mill through Philadelphia 76ers owner Michael Rubin - responded that such a personnel decision would come down to head coach Bill Belichick, who will have final say over any pursuit of Jackson.
The Patriots have been linked with a move for Jackson after the 2023 NFL Draft as the AFC East team could deal their first round selections from the 2024 and 2025 drafts. It’s ultimately unlikely that the Ravens decide to trade Jackson to the Patriots given the two franchises have clashed in recent times and share something of a sour relationship.