Patriots Trade Former First Round Pick QB Mac Jones to the Jaguars for Sixth Round Pick

After three seasons in New England, the Patriots have chosen to move on from their 2021 first-round selection at quarterback. Mac Jones will get a fresh start in his hometown with the Jacksonville Jaguars, heading down south in exchange for the 192nd pick (sixth round) in the 2024 NFL draft. The trade will not become official until March 13th – the new league years official start date – and Jones must also pass a physical before the trade is processed. 

Jones finishes his time in New England with an 18-24-0 record, 46 touchdowns to 36 interceptions, and am 85.8 career passer rating. He finished second in Offensive Rookie of the Year voting in 2021 and led the Patriots to their only playoff appearance in the post Tom Brady era. The rookie QB passed for 232 yards going 24 for 28 with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, but the Patriots were defeated by the Bills in decisive fashion, 47-17. 

The 25-year-old has gone downhill since his rookie campaign, seeing his passer rating drop to 84.8 in 2022 and 77.0 in 2023. Jones will be demoted to backup duties with the Jaguars with Trevor Lawrence – the first overall selection in Jones’ draft class – locked in as the team’s starting quarterback. Lawrence took a step back last season but finished 7th in MVP voting the year before after looking overmatched in his rookie season. 

Bailey Zappe will slot in as New England’s starting quarterback for the time being. The Patriots currently have the third most available cap space in the NFL at $72.6 million, so they could pursue a few names on the free agent market including Kirk Cousins, Ryan Tannehill, and Russel Wilson. They also have the third overall selection in this year’s draft where they are expected to take a quarterback, so there are a lot of scenarios where Zappe is forced back into backup duties for 2024. Caleb Williams essentially locked in as first overall selection, but the Patriots could have the chance to take Jayden Daniels, J.J. McCarthy, or Drake Maye. 

Zappe was the Patriots fourth round selection (137 overall) in the 2022 NFL draft, and he performed well as backup in his rookie campaign, finishing the season 2-0-0 with a 100.9 passer rating. He took a significant step back this past season in a larger sample size, finishing 2-4-0 with his passer rating dropping all the way down to 68.7. After his struggles in 2023, it’s unlikely the Patriots see him as a long-term option for them outside of a backup role. 

Receiving only a sixth-round pick for a former first round selection is never ideal, but the Patriots can walk away from the trade content with getting something for a player they were likely going to release. Jones had limited suitors, but four teams reportedly showed interested, with the Jaguars the only one to submit a formal offer as of Saturday. 

Jones never lived up to his potential in New England, but the blame cannot fall solely on him given that the Patriots have had one of the worse receiving groups in the NFL during his tenure. DeMario Douglas was the team’s leading receiver in 2023 with 561 yards, and a New England receiver has yet to post a 1000-yard receiving season since Tom Brady’s departure. Should Trevor Lawrence get hurt, Jones will have chance to prove himself as a solid NFL quarterback with a much better receiving corps in Jacksonville that includes the likes of Christian Kirk and Evan Engram. 

The Jaguars leading receiver Calvin Ridley, an unrestricted free agent, is reportedly one of the Patriots top priorities this offseason. Ridley is one of the top available wideouts on the market after posting over 1000 yards and 8 touchdowns following his 2022 suspension. Jacksonville currently has just $18.2 million in cap space, so the Patriots could significantly outbid them for the star receiver if they chose to do so. 

Signing Ridley would all but grantee the Patriots select a quarterback in the upcoming draft. At this point, New England could wait until early round two to select a quarterback like Michael Penix Jr. and use the third overall selection to take Marvin Harrison Jr. the top wide receiver in the 2024 draft class. 

The article was written in collaboration with