Menu - The Hub For New England Patriots Fans

New England Patriots > Patriots Blog

Patriots News 4/16: Zappe & Mac Working Hard, Pats Add a QB, Thoughts on Recent Rumors

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
2 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Patriots News 4/16: Zappe & Mac Working Hard, Pats Add a QB, Thoughts on Recent RumorsChristopher Hanewinckel - USA TODAY Sports

Good morning everyone.  I’m holding the fort down again for Steve Balestrieri this weekend as he enjoys some family time, but in the meantime, let’s get to it.

Here is this morning’s New England Patriots news:


Mac Jones excited to get to work: WBZ’s Steve Burton caught up with Mac Jones during a charity event this week, with Jones talking about his offseason.  “Yeah, I think we’re all excited for this next year, and it just starts with putting your head down and going to work. We’ve got a great group of guys, and it’s all about how you come together as a team — players, coaches, everybody,” Jones said. “So I’m excited to work with [new coordinator Bill O’Brien], and I know we all are. And it’s gonna be a great year, we’ve just gotta put the work in.”

Bailey Zappe has also been on hand working, as well as getting some familiarity with the new offensive coordinator, Bill O’Brien: “I’ve only met him a few times, of course. With all the offseason rules you really can’t do that much with coaches right now,” Zappe recently told 98.5 The Sports Hub during an interview while working at a youth football clinic. “The little amount of time that I’ve met him when he got hired — I’ve heard a bunch of stories about him, how great of a coach he is.  I’m really excited just to learn with all the knowledge that he has about the quarterback position, of not just the position itself but from a defensive standpoint as well, how he sees a defense.”

Zappe and Jones working with Thornton and Gesicki: Both quarterbacks have been regulars this offseason at the stadium and according to Mike Giardi, they’ve also each spent time throwing with second-year wideout, Tyquan Thornton, and newcomer, Mike Gesicki.  Thornton has quietly been busy bulking up this offseason and already looks like he’s made some solid gains, while Gesicki has been excited to be in New England since being signed last month.  The fact the work is already underway with these guys is already great to see, and it definitely helps build a good foundation as the team gets closer to getting back to work in the coming days.

JuJu Smith-Schuster makes a number change: After signing with the team, various illustrations saw the former Steelers and Chiefs player potentially wearing #19 here in New England, especially since Matthew Judon dons #9 and has made it clear on a few occasions that if Smith-Schuster wants it, it’ll cost him.  So instead, Smith-Schuster posted an Instagram story this week where he was wearing the #7, which appears to be what he’ll be wearing now that he’s a member of the Patriots.  Expectations are high for the veteran, as he’s expected to help pick up the slack from Jakobi Meyers, who departed for Las Vegas earlier this offseason.

Mankins, Parcells, and Vrabel among the 2023 Patriots Hall of Fame nominees: Former offensive lineman Logan Mankins, previous head coach Bill Parcells, and former linebacker Mike Vrabel are each among those selected by the voting committee for fans to vote on to be inducted in this year’s ceremony.  This is Mankins’s second-straight appearance on the ballot, with Vrabel being a finalist for the seventh straight year.  Parcells, who sparked the team’s turnaround one year prior to Robert Kraft’s arrival, is on the ballot for the fifth time.

Voting is available on the team’s official site at, with voting open through May 2nd.

Patriots continue visiting with Prospects: The Patriots have remained busy this week, with defensive ends Viliami Fehoko (San Jose State) and Tyree Wilson (Texas Tech), defensive back Emmanual Forbes (Mississippi State), and tight end Dalton Kincaid (Utah) among guys who have been on their radar with visits recently.

With the draft creeping up, it’s going to be interesting to see if any of these names pop up on their radar, as the club is definitely facing an important draft.  Barring any extensions, they have one of the largest free agency classes in recent memory coming after this season, which could see them potentially facing some significant changes.  That’s why hitting on their picks in 2023 may be even more critical, as building their foundation for the future is going to be key to them weathering some potential losses.

Patriots Sign QB Trace McSorely: The Patriots added a third QB to their roster on Friday signing former Penn State QB Trace McSorely.  The 27-year old previously played for Penn State and spent each of the last two seasons with the Ravens and Cardinals after having been a sixth-round selection by the Ravens in 2019.  His addition essentially solidifies Bailey Zappe’s role as at least the #2 QB heading into this season, albeit he’s expected to also push Jones during training camp.

Obviously, Zappe began his NFL career last season playing behind long-time veteran Brian Hoyer, but Zappe stepped up and played well following Hoyer’s injury against Green Bay and went on to win his next two starts in impressive fashion in Hoyer’s absence.  As a result, the team parted ways with Hoyer this offseason, and he suddenly appears to have replaced Hoyer for the foreseeable future as the team’s back-up. That leaves McSorely now holding the third QB spot, barring any additional draft picks or changes ahead of minicamp.

Happy Birthday, Bill: Today is Bill Belichick’s birthday, with the Patriots head coach turning 71 years young today.  That being said, Happy Birthday to my son, Alex, who by pure coincidence also shares a birthday with Belichick.  Definitely a little funny how that date worked out, especially since his dad was involved with this little corner of the internet even when he was a baby.  The fact that after all these years I continue to toil away at it is something he thinks is cool, and it still remains something we definitely laugh about each year.

Our Patriots Podcast is on YouTube: This week’s episode is on YouTube, with Derek Havens and Steve Balestrieri taking a look at a variety of draft prospects at the receiver, quarterback, and defensive end position, as well as their thoughts on some of the latest rumors going around.  If you’re on YouTube, please subscribe to our channel.  The guys will be back each week looking ahead to the draft, so be sure and hit the notification bell so that you’ll get updated when that’s available.

Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame, and the fact that especially Francis isn’t is an absolute travesty. Francis and the Raiders’ Dave Casper changed the game with how teams used the tight end position…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.

Is Nick Caserio Returning to the Patriots?

One of the most bizarre rumors that came out this week centered on former Patriots director of player personnel, Nick Caserio, who it sounds like could be leaving Houston in the coming days.

After fighting for two seasons to take their GM job, as well as navigating the messy divorce between the team and Deshaun Watson, it sounds like Caserio may not see his efforts play out.

Former Houston beat writer John McClain, who is widely respected in this field, revealed that he’s heard the two sides could be parting ways, which may see Caserio leave potentially as soon as the end of the draft.

The belief then is that Caserio could return to New England.

The next question would then be, in what capacity?  Matt Groh has grown into the roll and the club has seen a fair amount of success the last two seasons thanks to his efforts, with the 2022 class being arguably one of the best in recent memory given the success they achieved from so many players in their first seasons.

But if Groh has potentially started drawing interest from other teams (that hasn’t been reported to this point), that’s perhaps a good reason why Caserio coming back makes sense.  One of the biggest things that has always seemed to be an issue here in New England has seemingly been when it came to elevating staff members as well as compensating them accordingly.

The latter has been rumored to have been an issue in the past and it could explain why so many have come and gone over the years.  What’s a little interesting is that the ones who have wanted out, or forced their way out, in most cases, have gone on to better careers than the guys who were here for longer periods in more limited roles or not necessarily larger promotions, and left on better terms.

One interesting move was Robert Kraft stepping in this offseason and preventing Jerod Mayo from moving on, with that being a sign that he’s potentially trying to stop some of the bleeding with the amount of talented staff members who have been lost in recent years.

But it’s hard not to wonder, should Caserio come back, how they feel about Groh.  So far, he’s grown well into the role.  Whether or not they want him to stay in it is something that’s a little curious, and it’ll be interesting to see how this story ultimately plays out.

(PHOTO: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

Ongoing Issues Spark Questions on Jones’s Future:

The ongoing conversations about Mac Jones remain frustrating to listen to, with various outlets discussing a recent report by’s Mike Florio, who reported recently that Bill Belichick has been shopping Jones this offseason.

That obviously made a lot of noise on the radio, with many people discussing the rumors in what’s traditionally one of the quietest stretches of the offseason.

However, what’s interesting in listening to the various reports, a lot of what’s been said sounds more like rehashing what may potentially just be old news.

The more likely scenario may have been, as irritated as Belichick was at the end of the season, he may have gotten calls ahead of free agency to take the temperature of where things were with Jones.  Various coaches and GMs may have indeed inquired, and Belichick may have been willing to entertain a move if the offer was too good to refuse.

To this point, that hasn’t been the case, but it’s possible there has been interest.  And that may have been what sparked the reports.

As several have reported, the physical differences between the two players is something the team believes is close enough that it’s tough to give a decisive edge, with Jones seemingly holding the advantage due to his football acumen.  With Zappe now in his first full offseason, he’s essentially had the same time to improve himself physically the same way Jones did, which could allow him to close the gap strength-wise ahead of training camp.

The next question is then how well he reacts and adjusts at the line and his understanding of what Albert Breer reported this week is essentially a new playbook.  If both of those improve, the next question is where they believe Jones’s buy-in level may be at.

Belichick isn’t big on guys who go against the grain.  While we don’t know just how bad things got last season, the change in terms of how Belichick talks about his quarterback is certainly noticeably different.

That could mean that when it comes to Zappe, the fact he’s been a guy who has done what’s been asked could create a situation where even if Jones has an edge, Belichick may still move him if an offer comes along that is too good to refuse.

Whether or not there have been any serious discussions is obviously another question.

Otherwise, a lot of this sounds a lot like business as usual for a coach who is always looking to make his team better.  Jones hasn’t reached a point where if someone calls, Belichick will hang up the phone.  At the same time, only Belichick knows just how he’d react if it does potentially happen.

Mac’s Outside Inquiries Remain a Frustration:

By all accounts, things do sound as if they’ve been tense between the two sides.  That’s been confirmed by multiple reporters, with the main issue stemming from Jones seeking guidance outside the club last season as he and Matt Patricia seemingly couldn’t get on the same page.  That irked Belichick, who apparently is still bothered by it.

After struggling during the preseason, we saw Jones having difficulty with both the plays and the protections, with the second-year quarterback looking far more uncomfortable compared to the previous season, as well as getting hit more often.

He took some shots in the opener against the Dolphins, including a hit late that saw him hit both up high and cut down low, which ended up with him getting twisted around and hitting the turf.

Reports later came out that Jones needed X-Rays after it was over, which fortunately came back negative and it appeared he dodged a bullet.

But the hits didn’t stop there.  Jones was knocked around against Baltimore and eventually suffered an ankle injury at the end of a Week 3 loss to the Ravens, which brought his season to a screeching halt for about a month before he could pull himself out of what was a 1-2 start to begin 2022.

The problems went back to the summer.  Jones, having worked with Josh McDaniels the previous season, and Steve Sarkisian the year before that at Alabama, had been used to working with guys who were big on being ready for most defensive wrinkles, with their offenses providing contingencies in different situations.

However, this time around, that wasn’t the case.  Under Patricia, there were apparently a lot of questions there weren’t always answers to.  In a revealing article by the Boston Herald at the beginning of the offseason, that was an issue that didn’t sit well, and obviously had some players second-guessing Matt Patricia’s offensive scheme.  Players were told, “We’ll get to that when we get to that.”

That wasn’t good enough for Jones and the players reportedly weren’t too happy about that answer, either.

Going back to the preseason, Jones never seemed as if he fully trusted Patricia, and the same report by the Herald revealed that he and Joe Judge also didn’t have a good relationship.

“Mac didn’t like him,” a source told the Herald.  “At all.”

That trust seemed to wane over time, with things clearly boiling over late in the season as Jones was caught on camera speaking out against Patricia, which we’re now finding out was coupled with Jones taking things into his own hands.

People “Inside the Building” Tired of the Drama:

Most of what we’ve mentioned is essentially from last season, with Belichick already having had several months to put things behind him. However, the feeling seems to be that there’s still some carryover, with Belichick not exactly having been overly warm and fuzzy when it comes to his quarterback.

That’s a massive change from last offseason, when Belichick was complimentary of Jones while crediting all the work he put in throughout the months leading up to the season.

Instead, the theme has been consistent.  Whoever earns the starting role will be the guy, regardless of position.

It’s left a lot of questions as to where he really stands regarding Jones and the whispers of a potential trade just makes things more difficult for those in the building who are trying to bury all the drama and baggage that already came with everything that went on in 2022.

“Folks in the building understand he was in an adverse situation, and that is putting it gently,” Perry said recently. “It’s really difficult to hold it against him that he tried to fix it on his own. This is how people view this: Mac Jones felt as though he had exhausted all options available to him in the building, so he went out and pursued improvement elsewhere. And he might be punished because of that? He might be traded because of that? That’s him writing his own ticket out of town?

“There’s an absurdity to all of this that is not lost on Patriots employees.”

There’s been some debate locally on who the starter will be, especially after Zappe recently declared that he’s planning to “take full advantage” if the “opportunity presents itself.”

Many took that as a shot being fired by the second-year quarterback, but instead, it’s simply a case of another player at that position heading into training camp with the intention of playing his best.

Could Jones Be Traded?  Anything Is Possible:

While it would seem unlikely that the Patriots might move on from Jones, it’s hard to say whether or not that notion is completely off the table.

Belichick clearly feels comfortable enough to send the message to his quarterback that nothing is a given this season, and Zappe certainly seems like he’s been told that there’s a shot if he can push Jones to the brink and prove he’s up for the challenge.

The latter part of that alone tells you that if another team misses out on their future starter on draft day and gets desperate and picks up the phone, Belichick’s willing to listen.

And if that desperate team is willing to risk it all by going all-in on Jones, it’s possible Belichick would pull the trigger and use that currency to add more explosive talent around a guy who won two games last season by scoring 29+ points in each of his two victories.

That’s certainly not to say Belichick would seek it out, but if someone comes in and offers a full stack of chips, compared to a year ago, it feels like he might be willing to take it.

It’s just an odd situation for how much things have changed in just a year, especially given how high he had been on Jones last offseason.

Now the big question is going to be whether or not the two can put all of this behind them.  With both heading into a critical season, obviously they’re both professionals and will each at least be on the same page as they try and put together a better follow-up campaign.

But with one week to go until the draft, the fact this is even a possibility will make what happens next week that much more interesting for a team that has so much at stake heading into 2023.

Posted Under: Patriots News

  • Subscribe For Patriots Content Delivered by 6:30am Each Day

  • guest

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Newest Most Voted
    Inline Feedbacks
    View all comments
    1 month ago

    The Mac Jones/ Bailey Zappe assessment in this article is the best that I have seen yet. It’s going to be fun to see how it all plays out.

  • More News Headlines:

    Friday Patriots Notebook 6/2: News and Notes

    Friday Patriots Notebook 6/2: News and Notes

    By: Ian Logue
    New England Patriots news for Friday June 2, 2023.
    9 hours ago
    First Look at OTAs and Latest Patriots ‘Cheating’ Incident

    First Look at OTAs and Latest Patriots ‘Cheating’ Incident

    By: Mark Morse
    This is a compilation of various reports from the Patriots' open media day of the Organized Team Activity.
    10 hours ago
    Thursday Patriots Notebook 6/1: News and Notes

    Thursday Patriots Notebook 6/1: News and Notes

    By: Ian Logue
    New England Patriots news for June 1, 2023.
    1 day ago
    Wednesday Patriots Notebook 5/31: News and Notes

    Wednesday Patriots Notebook 5/31: News and Notes

    By: Ian Logue
    New England Patriots news and notes for Wednesday May 31, 2023.
    2 days ago
    Tuesday Patriots Notebook 5/30: News and Notes

    Tuesday Patriots Notebook 5/30: News and Notes

    By: Ian Logue
    New England Patriots news and notes for Tuesday May 30, 2023.
    3 days ago

  • Share via
    Copy link
    Powered by Social Snap
    Search For Links: - CLOSE
    For searches with multiple players
    add commas (Ex: "Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty")