There should be optimism around Mac Jones entering his third NFL season. Instead, some are wondering if he'll even be on the team this fall.
A report from ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio that Bill Belichick "shopped" Jones this offseason has resurfaced discussion about the New England Patriots' disastrous 2022 campaign, during which things got so bad under first-time offensive play-caller Matt Patricia that Jones reportedly sought help from outside the organization.
Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran and others have reported that Jones' actions irked Belichick -- but does Jones really deserve Belichick's ire given how bad things got last season? Our Phil Perry shared some intel on how Patriots players and staffers not named Belichick feel about Jones' supposed insubordination.
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"I heard what I would best describe as a collective rolling of eyes from folks with the team on Mac seeking out help and potentially being traded in part because of that," Perry said. "What I've been told from a variety of different folks -- with the team, formerly with the team, understanding of the situation, watching the situation from afar -- they will put it very plainly: They don't believe Mac Jones was being coached last year, so Mac Jones reached out to people for some coaching.
"The rolling of eyes that I hear is when that situation gets laid out ... people look at that and say, 'OK, I get it. You're not looking for your players to do that. But he wasn't being coached. He sought out coaching, and now he's the problem? What are we talking about here?'"
New England Patriots
Perry noted there are still concerns about Jones' leadership capabilities, and that his on-field outbursts last season didn't help his cause. But his fellow Patriots appear to be well aware that he was dealt a bad hand with Patricia and Joe Judge involved in last year's offense.
"Folks in the building understand he was in an adverse situation, and that is putting it gently," Perry said. "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."
An actual trade of Jones still feels like a long shot, and if he's on the roster in 2023, he should be well-positioned to bounce back in 2023 with veteran offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien and two new offensive playmakers in JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki. Still, Perry noted that Jones' teammates aren't pleased that talk of a potential Jones trade is in the news when they should be fully focused on a fresh start.
"I've spoken to players who are not happy that this is in the news, that the Patriots and their potential interest in trading Mac Jones is out there in the public sphere," Perry added. "They aren't happy on Mac's behalf; they aren't happy, period, on their own behalves. They're not happy that 2022 is bleeding into 2023."
To hear more from Perry on why the Patriots may benefit from trading down in the 2023 NFL Draft and to listen to his 1-on-1 with wide receiver prospect Tyler Scott, subscribe to the Next Pats Podcast or watch on YouTube below.