According to the latest buzz, the New England Patriots are set to have a legitimate quarterback competition on their hands once training camp gets underway.
There were many factors that surprised fans once that report dropped, but perhaps the most glaring was that rookie Mac Jones hadn’t signed his rookie deal yet. How could the Patriots’ first-rounder possibly compete with Cam Newton if he wasn’t under contract for his rookie year?
Well, there’s no need to worry about that anymore, as Jones officially inked his signature on a four-year, $15.59 million deal on Tuesday. The contract is fully guaranteed, includes a fifth-year option, a signing bonus just under $8.7 million, and will account for a $2.8 million cap hit in 2021.
As Ben Volin of The Boston Globe noted, if Jones morphs into a respectable starting quarterback, this deal will go down as a steal for the Patriots.
Mac Jones has signed his rookie contract with the Patriots.
The timing of this deal is particularly noteworthy, as Jones will now have about three weeks to mentally prepare for training camp without his contract hanging over his head.
For any fans in New England confused as to why it took so long for an agreement to be reached, it’s possible Jones’ agent was simply trying to gauge the market. Before Jones, Bears star Justin Fields was the only first-round gunslinger to sign his rookie contract.
However, that group increased by two on Tuesday. Just a few hours before the Alabama product signed his deal, No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, after great anticipation, signed a four-year, $36.8 million contract ($24.1 mil guaranteed) with the Jaguars.
With Jones now under contract through 2024, just two first-round quarterbacks remain unsigned by their respective teams: Zach Wilson, who went second overall to the Jets, and Trey Lance, who the 49ers surprisingly drafted with the No. 3 overall pick.
Getting back to Jones, New England will have to make a decision on whether to exercise the rookie’s fifth-year option in 2024. There’s a long way to go before then, but based on the rave reviews he received during mandatory minicamp, he’s certainly on the right path.
It remains to be seen whether Jones will be the Patriots’ starting QB come Week 1 — we like to think Newton has a slight edge and will win the competition — but consider the former Crimson Tide star’s contract getting signed as another box checked off his offseason to-do list.