The New England Patriots 2023 offseason is viewed as a crucial time for the future of the franchise, as the suddenly middling Patriots need to find a way to win games more consistently moving forward. Some big moves have already been made in an effort to help achieve that goal, but rumors will not go away surrounding the future of Mac Jones.
By now, we all know the story of Jones' 2022 campaign. After a Pro Bowl caliber rookie season in 2021, Jones took a huge step back in his sophomore season, and it resulted in New England missing the playoffs entirely. Jones wasn't exactly given a lot to work with, both in terms of coaching and personnel, but his regression was relatively stunning.
And now, it feels like wherever you look, rumors surrounding Jones' future with the team are popping up. Whether he's reportedly being shopped around by Bill Belichick, or Robert Kraft is receiving texts about Lamar Jackson wanting to become a Patriot, it's beginning to feel like a split between the Pats and Jones may be inevitable. But honestly, that may not be the worst thing in the world.
Patriots could improve by moving on from Mac Jones
After a fairly encouraging 2021 campaign, Jones' numbers through 14 games in 2022 took a pretty notable hit (288/442, 2997 YDS, 14 TD, 11 INT). The offense as a whole looked disjointed, but Jones was constantly flustered in the pocket, whether it was due to nobody getting open, opposing defensive lines creating pressure on him, or just a simple lack of understanding of the offensive system with the coaches. Jones was a mess in 2022, and that's putting it lightly.
Now again, this isn't all the young quarterback's fault. Giving him Matt Patricia and Joe Judge as his two go-to-coaches on offense was a horrible move by Belichick, and aside from Jakobi Meyers, there was nobody Jones could get on the same page with in the passing game. In a way, Jones was set up to fail, but it was still wildly concerning to see him actually fail.
That leads us to what has been a turbulent offseason for Jones so far. He's had to deal with rumors of a potential pursuit of the Baltimore Ravens star quarterback in Jackson, and now, he's popping up in trade rumors of his own as Belichick reportedly shops him. Belichick is rumored to still be upset that Jones reached out to his former Alabama Crimson Tide coaches in an effort to help him understand New England's new scheme, and it could actually end up resulting in him getting traded.
Initially, it may seem like trading Jones would be a bad thing for the Patriots. Jones is supposed to be the team's quarterback of the future, and one bad season shouldn't necessarily change that. Plus, aside from Bailey Zappe, who admittedly was impressive when he was forced to fill in for Jones last season, there are no other quarterbacks on the roster.
But New England doesn't appear to see much of a gap between Jones and Zappe currently, and even if they don't roll with Zappe, there are other options this team could pursue. Although he has a large price tag, Jackson is still there for the taking if the team feels so inclined to grab him. And in the 2023 NFL Draft, the Pats have the 14th overall pick in the first round, which could conceivably put them in position to land a guy like Anthony Richardson or Will Levis if they wanted to.
It may not seem like this would lead to drastic improvement for New England, but is that really the case? Jones wasn't even a league-average quarterback last season, and trying to help him learn his third offense in three years may be harder than just turning things over to a new rookie. If they went with Jackson, the guy is a former league MVP; that obviously would result in a rather large upgrade here.
Jones is only set to enter his third season in the league, and he still has a lot of time to turn things around, but realistically speaking, what is his ceiling as a quarterback in this league? At his best, would he be better to have under center than Jackson, or is his potential higher than that of a guy like Levis or Richardson? These are questions the team has to answer now that the cat is out of the bag regarding their shopping of their supposed quarterback of the future.
Given that it appears Belichick is actively working on trading Jones, it wouldn't be surprising to see him get moved sometime in the near future. And while that may look like a big mistake on the surface, it may end up leading to more wins in the near future, which is likely what Belichick will be looking for as he wraps up his coaching career. This situation is worth monitoring for sure, but don't be surprised if Jones' days in New England are numbered.