That would be a shocking development, but apparently it's on the table after Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio reported Tuesday that Belichick has "shopped" Jones on the trade market this offseason. Florio cited "tension" between Belichick and Jones stemming from the 2022 season, when Jones reportedly went outside the organization to seek help as the offense floundered under first-year offensive play-caller Matt Patricia.
So, what does this report mean for Jones? Does he still have a future in New England, or are the Patriots seriously exploring other options? Florio joined Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry on an "emergency" Patriots Talk Podcast to share some context around his report.
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"I think it's tenuous and to be determined," Florio said of Jones' future with the Patriots. "I really do think at this point the key is the draft coming up in three weeks. Who gets quarterbacks, who doesn't?"
As many as four quarterbacks are projected to go in the top 10 of the 2023 NFL Draft, but with Lamar Jackson also available via trade, those teams could choose to target the Baltimore Ravens quarterback instead. As Florio pointed out, Jones now gives QB-needy teams another option to consider for a draft weekend trade.
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"I think everything with (Jackson) is on hold until we get through the draft," Florio said. "Teams looking at quarterbacks -- the Colts for example at No. 4 -- if they don't have someone there at No. 4 that they want ... do they try to get in the Lamar Jackson sweepstakes?
"Are there teams lurking outside of the top ten that would like to try to explore a trade into the upper reaches of the draft to get a quarterback? If they don't have that opportunity, do they become interested in Lamar Jackson?
"I think we now throw Mac Jones into that mix. If the Raiders truly are looking at a quarterback and they don't get one, do they look at Mac Jones? Do other teams consider Mac Jones? It depends on what those teams think about Mac Jones, whether or not he could be a guy who's more like he was in 2021 than what he was in 2022."
In his report, Florio mentioned the Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Commanders as potential suitors for Jones, who was the league's best rookie quarterback in 2021 under Josh McDaniels but ranked 28th among 31 qualified signal-callers in QBR last season under Patricia.
You could make the argument that Belichick set Jones up to fail last season, and that Jones deserves another chance to work with a "real" offensive coordinator in Bill O'Brien this season. So, maybe Jones will stay in New England after all.
But his future appears anything but set in stone.
"It just adds to the overall intrigue as to where this team is, where this team is heading, and where it's going to be a year from now," Florio said. "Who will the quarterback be? Who will the coach be? Who will anyone be on the roster? It's felt never like this before, where so much is up in the air about the short-term and long-term reality of this franchise."
To hear more insight from Florio on the rift between Jones and Belichick and a hypothetical trade with the San Francisco 49ers involving Trey Lance, subscribe to the Patriots Talk Podcast or watch on YouTube below.