Patriots Preseason

If Patriots want to upgrade at backup QB, these arms are available

If Zappe Fever has finally run its course, which QB options should the Patriots consider?

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Do the New England Patriots need reinforcements at the most important position in football?

Backup quarterback Bailey Zappe endured a rocky 2023 preseason, throwing just one touchdown pass in three preseason games while taking six sacks and fumbling three times in New England's preseason finale alone. (The Patriots recovered two.)

While Zappe flashed signs of promise in two spot starts as a rookie last season (remember Zappe Fever?), you could argue he doesn't look like a capable backup to starter Mac Jones at the moment.

UPDATE (4 p.m. ET): The Patriots have waived both Zappe and quarterback/wide receiver Malik Cunningham, per our Phil Perry. That leaves Jones as the only active QB on the roster, although it's possible Zappe and/or Cunningham clear waivers to land on New England's practice squad.

"They definitely need an upgrade (at backup quarterback)," our Tom E. Curran said Monday on NBC Sports Boston's Arbella Early Edition. " ... The way Bailey Zappe has backslid this offseason, he's not good enough, and it's not relative specifically to the line around him. He's been inaccurate regardless of who he's with, he holds the ball too long, which has led to a number of the pressures. And I think generally speaking, his physical limitations have shown up. There's a massive gap between he and Mac.

"I think anybody who started NFL games for any length of time would be an upgrade until you figure out if he can fix himself."

That leads to an obvious question: Who might be available if the Patriots want to either trade or release Zappe, or carry three QBs with Zappe third on the depth chart?

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With Tuesday's 4 p.m. ET roster cutdown deadline looming, here's an updated tracker of QBs who have been released by other teams, followed by a list of signal-callers who have been free agents for much of the offseason.

Colt McCoy

Previous Team: Arizona Cardinals

Age: 36

2022 stats: 90 for 132 (68.2 percent), 780 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT (four games)

McCoy was a surprise release Monday, as many believed he could be Arizona's Week 1 starter with Kyler Murray out due to injury. The 36-year-old has plenty in the way of NFL experience (56 appearances over 12 NFL seasons) and once led the Cleveland Browns to an upset of the Patriots in 2010. He's also had multiple injuries over the past few seasons, however, so the Patriots would probably be better off letting Zappe develop than bringing him in.

Will Grier

Previous team: Dallas Cowboys

Age: 28

*2019 stats: 28 for 32 (53.8 percent), 228 yards, 0 TD, 4 INT (2 games)

The Carolina Panthers used a third-round pick on Grier in 2019 after he split his college career between Florida and West Virginia. He failed to impress in two spot starts, however, and was buried on the Cowboys' depth chart in 2021 and 2022. Grier could be an interesting reclamation project if the Patriots are looking for additional depth.

UPDATE (Wednesday, Aug. 30): Grier is signing with the Bengals' practice squad, ESPN's Adam Schefter reports.

*Did not play a regular-season game in 2020, 2021 or 2022

Jake Fromm

Previous Team: Washington Commanders

Age: 25

*2021 stats: 27 for 60 (45 percent), 210 yards, 1 TD, 3 INT (three games)

Fromm was a productive quarterback at Georgia but has been a flop in the NFL to date, spending all of last season on Washington's practice squad after stints with the New York Giants (2021) and Buffalo Bills (2020-21). Perhaps a change in scenery could benefit Fromm, however, and he does have experience working with former Bill Belichick assistant Brian Daboll in Buffalo.

*Did not appear in a regular season game last season

Other notable free-agent QBs on the market

  • Carson Wentz
  • Nick Foles
  • John Wolford
  • Chase Daniel
  • Trevor Siemian
  • Jeff Driskel
  • Chris Streveler
  • Ben DiNucci
  • Tommy DeVito (signing with Giants practice squad)
  • Brett Rypien
  • David Blough
  • Nathan Peterman
  • Josh Johnson
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