As is the case every year, the Patriots roster has remained fluid since the club pared its roster down to 53, and they took a step to upgrade their quarterback room on Thursday.
With Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham both returning to the practice squad after being placed on waivers earlier this week, the New England Patriots brought in an additional name who appears set to compete to be Mac Jones’ backup heading into Week 1 against the Eagles.
The club reportedly claimed former Panthers quarterback Matt Corral on Thursday, with the 2022 third-round pick finding himself on the outside looking in one day following Carolina’s roster cutdowns.
It’s a funny turn of events, considering Corral was actually part of a deal in 2022 that brought Zappe to New England. That unfolded after Carolina made a draft-day trade with the Patriots to move up to 94th overall, netting an additional 4th-round pick that they used to take the former Western Kentucky quarterback, with the other selection they picked up in 2023 turning out to be Marte Mapu.
Now, one year later, the Patriots have the two players among their list of signal-callers.
Corral initially survived the first round of roster cutdowns, with new head coach Frank Reich being a little elusive when answering questions about the club carrying three quarterbacks on its roster. The Panthers drafted Bryce Young earlier this April and also brought in veteran Andy Dalton to mentor him.
But while Reich had been happy with what he’d seen from Corral, he claims the move to waive him just came down to numbers as the Panthers try and solidify their active roster.
“We’re happy with the progress that Matt made,” said Reich on Thursday. “As we’ve talked about really the whole offseason, there’s a lot of complexities, a lot of moving parts to putting together a roster. Everybody understands that the sole motivation is to do what’s best for the team. We’re trying to get as many players on the roster, and in that locker room on the 53 and on the practice squad as we can, that can help us win this year. So those are tough decisions.”
Like the Patriots, Carolina had other areas on their active roster where they needed depth. So, one day later, the Panthers crossed their fingers, hoping Corral would clear waivers and spend the year on the club’s practice squad.
“I don’t mind saying, I would love to Matt back,” said Reich. “We think he’s done very well. We’d like to see him continue to progress.”
Unfortunately, Reich’s gamble didn’t pay off, and it appears any progress his now-former quarterback makes will happen here in New England.
The Patriots got a look at the former Ole Miss standout last preseason against the Panthers at Gillette Stadium. In that game, Corral finished 9-of-15 (60%) for 58 yards, but unlike teammate Phillip Walker (who threw two interceptions), he didn’t turn it over.
Corral’s completion rate was a significant improvement from the week before, when he completed just 1-of-9 for 11 yards during Carolina’s meeting against Washington.
Oddly enough, it was the game against New England where Corral suffered the Lisfranc ligament tear that cost him his rookie season, after the young quarterback saw his foot get stepped on. Former head coach Matt Rhule called a “significant” injury prior to the quarterback ending up on injured reserve, and it was certainly a setback for a player who so many believed could help the club moving forward.
Now, after potentially being part of Carolina’s future, Reich has purged several of Rhule’s previous draft picks, which opened the door for Corral to potentially grow as a player here with the Patriots.
Whether or not their loss is New England’s gain remains to be seen. But for now, he’ll likely be scrambling a bit to learn the offense as the Patriots continue preparing to open the season next Sunday against Philadelphia at Gillette Stadium.
(Editor’s Note: Portions of the above appeared in this morning’s daily Patriots news and notes column.)
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Carolina Panthers Frank Reich Matt Corral