The New England Patriots may have found their Bailey Zappe replacement.
Two days after releasing Zappe, who has since rejoined the team via the practice squad, the Patriots reportedly claimed former Ole Miss quarterback Matt Corral off waivers from the Carolina Panthers. While it's currently unclear how Bill Belichick will organize his QB depth chart when the regular season begins, Corral could supplant Zappe as the No. 2 QB behind Mac Jones.
So, who is Matt Corral? How good of a player is he? And could he ascend enough to one day make Mac Jones superfluous? The Athletic's Panthers insider Joe Person provided some insight on a new episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast.
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"The Panthers think he's at least a year away from being someone who can help," Person said of Corral. "A lot of that is because he did not run a real complex offense at Ole Miss under Lane Kiffin. ... And then he doesn't get any time last year. We saw a lot of him this preseason. Not in practice, he did not get practice reps, but he did get pretty decent work in preseason games."
Corral, a third-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, missed all of his rookie campaign due to a Lisfranc injury. The Panthers went on to select Alabama star Bryce Young with the first overall pick of the 2023 draft and sign veteran QB Andy Dalton as Young's backup, making Corral expendable.
Still, Person believes Corral offers some intriguing upside for New England.
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"He's got sort of the off-platform ability to make plays with his feet. He's got a quick release, too. Those were the big pluses for him coming out last year," Person said. "Some of the other things were inconsistency, is he a guy that will understand complex offenses not having played one in college? But it's worth a flier for the Patriots."
Jones enters the 2023 season as the clear-cut starting quarterback. But if his performance is closer to last year than his encouraging rookie season, does Corral have the potential to one day compete for the QB1 role?
"It depends who you ask," Person answered. "I can tell you, (former Panthers head coach) Matt Rhule and (former Panthers offensive coordinator) Ben McAdoo were very high on Matt Corral. Ben McAdoo had a brief stint here as offensive coordinator but he really banged the table for Corral. ... I don't know, he's not a big guy. But he's interesting. He's worth taking a look at."
Belichick has until Sept. 10 to decide who his No. 2 QB will be for the team's Week 1 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles.