Now that they’ve got their guy, the Patriots have a decision to make.
The Patriots selected Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with the 15th overall pick in the NFL draft, presumably to be the team’s quarterback of the future. Now that they have their guy, the next question is simple: when will he actually play?
After signing veteran signal caller Brian Hoyer to his fourth stint with the team, the Patriots quarterback room now consists of Cam Newton, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham, and Mac Jones. When he drafted Jones last month, coach Bill Belichick told the media, “Cam’s our quarterback… whatever time Jarrett (Stidham) or Mac are ready to challenge him and compete, we’ll see how that goes.” When asked when a transition would take place, Belichick gave a typical Belichick answer:
The narrative with rookie quarterbacks, outside of the phenoms who step in week one, is that they will redshirt for their entire rookie season and just learn from the guys in the room. However, this rarely plays out in practice. A few recent examples:
- Blake Bortles became Jaguars starter over Chad Henne in week three
- Deshaun Watson became Texans starter over Tom Savage in week two
- Tua Tagovailoa became Dolphins starter over Ryan Fitzpatrick in week eight
When Jones was the presumed number three overall pick to San Francisco, it was because he was deemed the most NFL-ready by many league pundits – specifically Chris Simms. Simms said that, “after Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson… he’s the most NFL ready right now.”
Simms has since changed his stance on Jones starting right away. When asked on his Unbuttoned podcast who he thinks will be the rookie quarterback that takes over mid-season to save their franchise, Simms said that: “I’m going to take Mac Jones out of there right now. I do have faith in Cam, that team, and that his year will be good enough. [Cam] will play the whole year.”
ESPN’s Dan Orlovsky diagrees. Orlovsky was asked who should start between Newton and Jones for the Patriots season. He said that, “Jones SHOULD be their day one starter, [and] I think Jones WILL be their day one starter.” Orlovsky said that this draft pick was about the Patriots going, “back to their old school offense a little bit. The offense that they ran for such a long time with Tom Brady.”
He also mentioned that New England offense is going to be heavy on the run game this season and that “this is a top five offensive line in the NFL… When you do that, third down becomes paramount. Third and five or less is going to be about decision making and accuracy… I think that’s where Mac Jones is going to have a distinct advantage versus Cam Newton.”
The simple answer to the question is that we don’t know. Right now it seems like Cam Newton will be allowed to control his own destiny. If he can win football games and show he has improved his throwing, then it will be his job to lose. However, if Newton plays the way he played last season post-COVID, we may see the rookie sooner rather than later.
The signing of Brian Hoyer also throws a wrench into this. With four quarterbacks now under contract, someone is destined to be a cut candidate. Will the Patriots let Jarrett Stidham go? Will they use Hoyer as a rental/teacher for Mac Jones and then cut ties during September cut downs? We will find out their plan soon enough. The Patriots began their offseason training period on Monday, May 24, with the first day of media availability being Thursday, May 27.
(Photo: Dwight Darian/Patriots.com)
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