It looks like Mac Jones is about to follow Bill Belichick out of New England.
With new coach Jerod Mayo in place and the Patriots holding the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Jones is expected to be traded this offseason, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
Jones is entering the final season of his rookie contract after the Patriots previously declined his fifth-year option.
“Even though Bill Belichick is gone, Mac Jones — who lost the starting role and ended up third string by the end of the 2023 season — is a trade candidate in the coming weeks and most likely will end up elsewhere for the 2024 season,” Rapoport wrote Sunday. “…All indications are they’ll seriously explore taking one of the draft’s top [quarterbacks] as they move into the Jerod Mayo era.”
USC’s Caleb Williams, North Carolina’s Drake Maye, and LSU’s Jayden Daniels are considered the top three quarterback prospects available, and they could be selected in some order with the first three picks.
Jones, the15th overall pick in 2021, threw for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdown passes and led the Patriots to a playoff berth as a rookie.
But he has nearly as many interceptions (23) as touchdowns (24) with a combined passer rating of 81.4 over the past two seasons.
ESPN.com reported Belichick wanted to explore trading Jones last offseason, but owner Robert Kraft wanted to keep Jones as the starter.
It was one of the disagreements between Belichick and Kraft that ultimately led Belichick to split with New England after 24 years.
After several mid-game benchings, the 25-year-old Jones was replaced as New England’s starter by Bailey Zappe in Week 13 of this season.
Jones was inactive for the season-ending loss to the Jets in what will now likely be his final game as a Patriot.
“I’m looking forward to the next opportunity,” Jones said after the Pats’ 4-13 campaign ended. “I know it’s gonna come, but at the end of the day, as a quarterback and a competitor, you have to be ready, right? So I’m gonna be ready.
“I really love this place and have a lot of respect for this place. We’ll see where it goes.”