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Saturday Morning Notebook 3/2: News and Notes

With free agency approaching, will the Patriots sign a veteran quarterback?

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
March 2, 2024 at 6:00 am ET

Saturday Morning Notebook 3/2: News and Notes(PHOTO: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

Some news and notes on this Saturday.

Some Light is Shed on Patriots’ QB Plan:

Heading into this offseason, the key question was clearly going to be centered on how the Patriots would shape their quarterback room heading into 2024, and what the plan would be as they prepare to begin a new chapter under new head coach, Jerod Mayo.

With the club having so many needs heading into free agency, the Patriots are in a tough spot.  Any plan right now, at least in terms of the draft, is more or less centered around hypotheticals and essentially contingent on how the board falls before they make their pick at number three overall.

Between the time free agency begins and the draft, the club won’t really have a clear-cut answer as to who will be throwing passes in Foxboro after April’s draft.  For players who rely on building a resume and reaching incentives, it’s going to make the pitch to any offensive free agents pretty difficult.

That’s why the obvious move may be to bring in a veteran to at least have a name to pitch toward any potential skill players, with the idea of then developing whoever their rookie is behind that person.

That strategy worked when they re-signed Cam Newton following the 2020 season, and there were reports that him being in New England helped nudge several players who signed that offseason into coming to Foxboro.

But now, the key question is, who will that be?  One key name that makes the most sense continues to be former Patriots quarterback Jacoby Brissett, who has a relationship with new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and would likely be at a reasonable enough price tag where the Patriots could afford to carry him on its roster along with their rookie QB.

One name that was reported on Friday was Joe Flacco, with Browns reporter Mary Kay Cabot reporting that the Patriots are possibly interested in signing the long-time Ravens quarterback as both their bridge veteran starter, as well as someone who could help mentor their future signal-caller.

At 39-years old – and certainly not looking Brady-esque despite a performance that earned him the 2024 Comeback Player of the Year – he’s a signing that does make sense in terms of giving the Patriots a seasoned, Super Bowl-winning veteran who would also be a good mentor for a young quarterback.

Some people aren’t thrilled about that notion, but you have to take Flacco for what he is.  Whether or not you think he can play isn’t the issue.  But he might be a person who can help set up a winning foundation for whoever will carry the torch after him.

Either way, the club needs a name in place to attract free agents, and signing either player as early in free agency as possible is likely going to be critical to that process.  Because as it currently stands, there’s too much uncertainty for whoever they might try to convince to pick up and come to Foxboro, so signing a veteran simply makes that much more sense.

Mac Jones

(PHOTO: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports)

Mac’s Future Appears Set

Whether it’s Brissett, Flacco, or someone else, given the news, it may indicate one guy may not be in the mix in 2024.

According to Mark Daniels of MassLive, fourth-year quarterback Mac Jones will likely be dealt this offseason as the Patriots rebuild their quarterback room.

The likely timeframe could be draft weekend, which may see a team, after missing out on their guy in the early rounds, take a flyer on whether or not they can get value in a reclamation project like Jones.  After all, he’s a player who has shown some good moments in his brief career, and a change of scenery could be just what he needs to get himself headed back in the right direction.

Daniels also believes the Patriots will sign a veteran, with the only question then being whether or not Bailey Zappe remains as the team’s third quarterback.

Zappe, who was released at the end of preseason in 2023, has certainly shown enough ability to play as a spot starter, and he seems to be well-liked in the locker room.  He also holds a lot of value in that he has familiarity within the organization and has two years left on his rookie contract.

For now, the key question all of us are wondering is who the players ahead of him will be on the depth chart.  But it seems that behind the scenes, they’re already working on putting the rest of the foundation together.

As for Jones, he’s been seen working on his pocket presence and improving his fundamentals, which if nothing else will hopefully catch the eye of whatever team ultimately takes a chance on him.

Jackson Released:

The Patriots made a notable transaction on Friday while also freeing up significant space ahead of free agency.

Unfortunately, that ended up being bad news for J.C. Jackson, who it appears will see his second stint in New England come to an abrupt end.

The news, which will save the Patriots nearly $14 million, comes just one day after head coach Jerod Mayo told reporters that they were still deciding how they were going to handle the situation.

“Those discussions are still going,” said Mayo. “Look, I love J.C., coached him, saw him develop into a man. We’ll see how that goes going forward. But, look, heck of a football player, two years removed from injury, he’s probably going to move a lot better this year, so we’ll see.”

Salary cap expert Miguel Benzan reports that the move has freed up $13.46 million in cap space, putting the Patriots over the $100 million mark heading into free agency. He has New England with $100,333,802 in available space following the transaction.

Caleb Williams

(PHOTO: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Williams Declines Medicals at Combine:

Caleb Williams has been at the combine but despite not taking part in any drills, it also sounds like he’s not providing teams with much intel from a physical standpoint.

According to CBS Sports, Williams is the first player invited to the combine to decline the medical exams, while also not signing off on having his medical records shared with all 32 teams.

While teams have gotten complaints in the past over the redundancy of the process, Williams is the first to outright decline.

He’s doing all of this on his own accord, as the quarterback is working without an agent.

Teams are already questioning whether or not he’s worthy of being taken with the first overall pick, with Phil Perry of NBC Sports Boston reporting that teams do have questions about Williams being the consensus pick here in 2024, so it will be interesting to see how he’s viewed by the time this week is over.

NFL Looking at Changing First Down Markers?

It appears the NFL might be making a change on the field that would change one key aspect of the game.

According the Washington Post’Mark Maske, the league is looking at potentially employing technology that would replace the first-down chains, which right now, as we know, is handled by a crew on the field that physically moves the sticks.

The technology was apparently developed by the company Hawk-Eye, which is the same system that is used in Tennis and other sports.

Maske reports that the league has tested the technology, and the next thing will be to gauge the interest of teams and owners, with the possibility of the system being implemented by as soon as next season.  However, NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent believes 2025 is more realistic.

It would be interesting to see if it works better than how the officials currently see things.  As we’ve seen, that system has been less than reliable.  We’ve seen poor spots and bad measurements, and this technology would potentially be the first step in solving that problem.

(PHOTO: Robert Deutsch – USA TODAY Sports)

On This Day in 2000 – Bruschi Visits Browns

It’s hard to imagine Tedy Bruschi playing anywhere else, but on this day in 2000, he was exploring his options.

According to a report in the Cleveland Beacon Journal, linebacker Tedy Bruschi visited the Browns as he made the rounds as a free agent. The media in Cleveland seemed to feel he’d be a good fit adding depth to their current linebacking core of Jamir Miller, Wali Rainer and Rahim Abdullah.

Bruschi obviously re-signed that offseason, with the linebacker ultimately agreeing to a two-year deal here with the Patriots.

The veteran represented himself during the entire duration of his NFL career, which obviously saw him play the entirety of it in New England.

Odds and Ends:

J.J. McCarthy had some positive words following his meeting with the Patriots.  “Coach Mayo, awesome guy, asked some really great questions. You can definitely tell he’s been around this process for along time and been a part of it,” said McCarthy via Mark Daniels of MassLive.com.  “Great interactions and it would be an honor to be a part of their organization.” … If the Patriots are interested in Quarterback Michael Penix Jr., they’ve yet to tip their hand.  According to the Boston Globe’s Christopher Price, Penix told reporters on Friday he’s yet to meet with the Patriots.  Alex Barth of 98.5 The Sports Hub also pointed out that Penix is the lone signal-caller among the top 100 QBs whom New England has yet to have met with. … Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri is among notable names on the 2025 Hall of Fame ballot.  The list was posted by Fox Sports on Friday, with Vinatieri among Eli Manning, Marshawn Lynch, and Clay Matthews.  Based on those names, Vinatieri should take this one in a landslide, although whether or not that ends up being the case remains to be seen. … While Zappe seems like a logical candidate at quarterback down the depth chart, it looks like he’ll also have competition.  NFL Insider Tom Pelissero is reporting that the Patriots are re-signing soon-to-be exclusive rights free agent quarterback Nathan Rourke.  He’s expected to have received a one-year qualifying offer for the league minimum to keep him in the fold for 2024.  The Patriots originally claimed Rourke in December of this past season after he was waived by the Jaguars.

READ NEXT:
NFL Looking at Changing First Down Markers?

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


Tags: Adam Vinatieri Alex Van Pelt J.C. Jackson J.J. McCarthy Jacoby Brissett Jayden Daniels Joe Flacco Mac Jones Michael Penix Jr. Nathan Rourke

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