Russell Wilson trade puts more pressure on Mac Jones in stacked AFC

BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JANUARY 15: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
BUFFALO, NEW YORK - JANUARY 15: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

The New England Patriots may have made it to the playoffs in 2021 on the back of a fantastic season from Mac Jones, but replicating that feat could be even harder in 2022 considering how key departures will affect the roster as the AFC gets even more stacked. With names like Jimmy Garoppolo and Russell Wilson in the rumor mill, we can expect more teams to get better.

In fact, Wilson is already on the move. He got his trade wish granted, but his destination isn’t exactly what Bill Belichick and the rest of the division wanted to see.

Wilson was traded to the Denver Broncos in a move that sent Noah Fant, Shelby Harris, Drew Lock, and a horde of draft picks back to Seattle. The AFC now features nine different quarterbacks that have played in at least one Pro Bowl, showing the depth of the conference.

Jones’ sophomore season was always going to be important for the Patriots given how he needs to make sure that he can replicate his standout rookie year. Now that there’s added competition (and competition that will be here for years to come), Jones’ development is going to be under an even bigger microscope … and it’s not going to get any easier.

The Russell Wilson trade was bad for the Patriots in many ways

Denver may have finished last in the division and hired a rookie head coach in Nathaniel Hackett, but they had one of the league’s finest defenses. Now that they have their quarterback, they could go from a last-place team to an instant playoff fixture despite the tough division they reside in.

Patrick Mahomes, Joe Burrow, and Josh Allen have already had postseason success in this conference. With Lamar Jackson ready to return, Wilson in Denver, and Justin Herbert coming off of a 5,000-yard season, Jones will need to be one step short of perfect to make it to the postseason.

A Belichick defense as well as Jones’ accuracy will help the Patriots stave off the Dolphins and Jets in the AFC East, but the former Alabama star will need to take the next step if he wants to win some playoff games shortly. With all of that power in the conference, one misstep or slight regression could be a death knell.

With veterans like Wilson hungry for another ring and the parade of talented young signal-callers in the AFC West, Jones and the Patriots will be in for a dogfight every single year for the next half-decade. If Jones wants to truly be a worthy successor to Brady, fans will need to eventually see some playoff wins against this murderer’s row of signal-callers.