New England Patriots

Top six potential landing spots for Mac Jones

A change of scenery could be just what the doctor ordered for the 2021 first-rounder.

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Unsurprisingly, Mac Jones' time in New England appears all but over.

The 25-year-old quarterback is expected to be traded this offseason after three tumultuous years in Foxboro. Teams reportedly have called the Patriots recently inquiring about Jones' availability, and some league executives believe New England could get a fifth- or sixth-round pick in return for the 2021 first-rounder.

A change of scenery seems like the best-case scenario for Jones, who struggled mightily the last two years after a promising rookie campaign. But which potential landing spots make the most sense for Jones as he looks ahead to the next chapter of his NFL career?

Here are the six most sensible trade destinations for Jones, ranked.

6. Seattle Seahawks

The Seahawks parted ways with longtime head coach Pete Carroll but are still set to roll with 33-year-old signal-caller Geno Smith in 2024. Smith is under contract with the team through the 2025 season.

Trading for Jones would give the Seahawks an insurance policy in case Smith's productivity continues to decline. While Smith's 2023 season wasn't terrible by any means, he regressed in nearly every category after his surprisingly stellar 2022 campaign. His passing yards dropped from 4,282 to 3,624 and his touchdown passes fell from 30 to 20. Seattle had an 8-7 record with Smith as a starter last year.

Jones would be a cost-effective option for a Seahawks team that's likely plotting a succession plan at the QB position. With Smith presumably starting under center in 2024, Jones would have the opportunity to learn the system for at least a year before being thrust into action. It's a solid fit.

5. Denver Broncos

Russell Wilson is gone, leaving the Broncos with a glaring void at the QB position. Perhaps Jones could fill that slot and compete with former Pats QB Jarrett Stidham next summer.

Broncos head coach Sean Payton was high on Jones in 2021. When he was the head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Payton reportedly tried to trade ahead of New England in the draft to select Jones. Before a Pats-Saints matchup that September, he confirmed his affinity for the Alabama product.

"He was someone that we were really high on," Payton told reporters. "I think he processes information fast. At Alabama if you watch closely his tape, the ball comes out, decisions are made fast. I think he sees the field horizontally as well as vertically well. He has the arm to make the throws that you want.

"His decision-making and processing are where I felt were really strong suits with him and I think he's handling it well. It's not easy to all of a sudden come in and start week one as a rookie, but he's a smart player."

In Denver, Jones would likely have the opportunity to compete for the starting job in camp. He would have some intriguing weapons including running back Javonte WIlliams and wideouts Courtland Sutton and ex-Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy.

4. Atlanta Falcons

The Falcons might be a quarterback away from making some noise in the NFC. They'll likely look to address the position in the upcoming draft, but taking a flier on Jones wouldn't be the worst idea.

Unlike his time in New England, Jones would be surrounded by talent in Atlanta. With Bijan Robinson and Tyler Allgeier at running back, Drake London and Kyle Pitts as pass-catchers, and a strong offensive line, Jones would be set up for success. Perhaps that would be enough to help him revert to his rookie form.

3. Minnesota Vikings

Assuming Kirk Cousins doesn't return in free agency, Jones in Minnesota would make perfect sense. He's more affordable than other free-agent options like Jacoby Brissett and Gardner Minshew. The Vikings will eye a QB in the 2024 draft, during which they pick 11th overall, but Jones can compete with whoever they select in training camp. As for existing talent on the roster, you can't do any better than superstar wideout Justin Jefferson.

Minnesota has two fifth-round picks and two sixth-rounders to make a deal happen.

2. San Francisco 49ers

Kyle Shanahan's system may be the best fit for Jones as he looks to revive his career. In fact, a simulation we ran in October strongly suggested Jones would find success in San Francisco.

Shanahan reportedly mulled selecting Jones with the No. 3 pick in 2021 before ultimately choosing Trey Lance. That selection turned out to be a bust, but it's fair to say the 49ers head coach is thrilled with how "Mr. Irrelevant" Brock Purdy -- the final pick of the 2022 draft -- has panned out. Purdy helped the Niners to a Super Bowl berth last season after breaking out as a rookie.

With backup QB Sam Darnold hitting free agency, Jones would make sense to fill the void. If Purdy regresses or gets hurt, maybe Shanahan can work his magic and make Jones live up to his first-round status.

1. Los Angeles Rams

Although Jones probably prefers to start in 2024, he may be best served sitting and observing for a year or two. That being the case, L.A. is an obvious match.

Jones could benefit greatly from learning under veteran Super Bowl-winning quarterback Matthew Stafford in Sean McVay's scheme. By the time Stafford is out of the picture, Jones will have had time to regain his confidence and revitalize his pro career.

The Rams also might be the best trade match for the Patriots. They have two fifth-round draft picks at their disposal as well as four sixth-round selections.

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