Patriots apparently hunting for a quarterback in the Mac Jones trade, plus five likely destinations

It appears that things are not going well in New England’s center.

According to head coach Bill Belichick, the starting quarterback position for the Patriots in 2023 is not a given for Mac Jones. Furthermore, it appears that the previous first-round pick might not even be guaranteed a spot. NBC Sports says that Belichick is still angry with Jones over his choice to seek outside counsel in 2022, despite indications that New England wants to keep constructing around the quarterback ahead of his third season. However, according to ProFootballTalk, the coach has been at the forefront of efforts to move Jones this summer.

Robert Kraft, the owner of the Patriots, has openly backed Jones and claimed that the team’s 2022 staff failed the former Alabama standout. Yet according to Mike Florio on Tuesday, Belichick has continued to shop the quarterback around to different teams despite that. Belichick was cautious not to name Jones as his 2023 starting quarterback during the NFL’s annual owners meetings, leaving room for second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe to take over at the position.

Even at the age of 24, Jones wouldn’t likely bring in a high return in a trade despite being a past top-15 pick and Pro Bowl selection. He had a respectable but unremarkable rookie season before declining in an injury-plagued 2022 campaign, during which he went 6-8 while starting and tossed 14 touchdown passes to 11 interceptions. Yet, a lot of teams are still in need of quarterback assistance, and not all of them may find the desired prospects in the 2023 NFL Draft in April.

In light of this, the following five teams could be interested in Jones, should the Patriots decide to upgrade their own quarterback:

5. Broncos

Although they are obligated to keep Russell Wilson through 2023 (and would have to spend a lot of money to part ways with him in 2024), new head coach Sean Payton has already made it clear that new No. 2 Jarrett Stidham might eventually take over as the starter. Given that he was openly impressed with Jones as a prospect while leading the Saints, why wouldn’t he search out every possible lead as he attempts to revitalize the organization? The quarterback’s short-area efficiency has at least a passing stylistic resemblance to Drew Brees.

4. Buccaneers

To have Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask compete in the wake of Tom Brady’s most recent retirement, they are paying very little. In the first round of the draft, they don’t select until choice No. 19. In other words, a trade is their only option for improving the long-term QB situation. Jones’ style, which favors rapid reads like Brady does, would likely fit Todd Bowles’ cautious approach, and new coordinator David Canales would presumably make for a reliable partner given his work on Geno Smith in 2022.

3. Commanders

Washington has settled for mediocre 2023 choices thus far, counting on 2022 rookie Sam Howell to defeat journeyman No. 2 Jacoby Brissett despite coach Ron Rivera’s yearly complaints about their inability to find a viable signal-caller. With a 16th-round pick, they’d probably need to make a significant improvement to get a top quarterback prospect. At the very least, Jones would increase the competition, and he would also remain a team asset for at least three more seasons.

2. Titans

The Titans have been considering all the top quarterback prospects before of the draft, despite Ryan Tannehill’s status as the current starter. Why wouldn’t they think of Jones as a worthy reclamation project if they can’t get their guy at No. 11 overall or through an expensive trade up? He would be significantly less expensive than Tannehill, who might still start in Week 1, and he has ties to the Patriots, like head coach Mike Vrabel. It makes reasonable that this squad would look into Brady’s potential replacement since they already investigated Brady.

1. Raiders

In Las Vegas, Josh McDaniels has already replaced Derek Carr with Jimmy Garoppolo and Brian Hoyer, rebuilding the Patriots’ former quarterback room. Why not finish the task? As Carr’s immediate replacement, Garoppolo will earn starter pay, but he is far from a lock to play through his contract’s highly disposable year of 2024. Yet, Jones’ rookie contract may keep him on the sidelines until 2025, and his connections to the team’s management are clear. While general Dave Ziegler was Belichick’s director of player personnel and McDaniels was the Patriots’ offensive coordinator, he was selected with the No. 15 overall pick in New England. At No. 7, if the Raiders are unable to select a quarterback early in the draft, they may change course to assure that McDaniels has another veteran who fits his scheme.