When the Patriots initially put together their 53-man roster for the 2023 season, it was apparent all the chips were finally in on Mac Jones. He was the lone quarterback remaining after the shocking release of Bailey Zappe, who had performed far better than anyone anticipated last season in Jones' absence.
It didn't take long for Zappe to be signed back to the practice squad, but the move still made little sense. No team will go into the long 18-week NFL season with just one quarterback on the roster. So, it was inevitable that Jones would be joined by a backup at some point before the season.
Although the decision to cut him made little sense, most assumed Zappe would eventually be signed to the game-day roster and be put back into his role as QB2. But that's not exactly what happened.
In another confusing series of events, the Patriots signed Matt Corral from the Panthers. Given their circumstances, Corral appeared to be the guy who would get that backup role. But the situation became confusing as the former Ole Miss quarterback seemingly went missing and didn't show up to the facility for several days.
Belichick later revealed they were able to get into contact with him and placed him on the little-known exempt/left squad list. About ten days later, he was released and quickly re-signed to the practice squad, only to be announced he wasn't.
It continues to be one of the more peculiar stories in the NFL, but it appears the Patriots have decided to move in a different direction, as they signed and cut Ian Book during that period and have now signed former Cowboys quarterback Will Grier to the practice squad this week.
He has already been signed to the main roster, with Belichick stating he will be the team's emergency quarterback under the new NFL guidelines. That leaves Zappe as Jones' primary backup, and it looks like it'll stay that way for now.
But are the recent signings and continued search for another quarterback indicating how Belichick feels about Zappe?
We saw the second-year quarterback's rough summer, and his memorable preseason performance likely got him released. Unfortunately, he seems to have succumbed to the new offensive system put in place by Bill O'Brien, which Jones has been thriving under, which has led to his struggles.
Since there's no plan to move on from the offensive coordinator any time soon, perhaps Belichick realized Zappe wouldn't be the reliable backup needed after all. It's possible the vanilla offense that Matt Patricia put together last season was the best way for Zappe to transition from his small college into the NFL. And he definitely thrived in that offense.
Now that they've introduced a more complex playbook that caters to Jones' strengths, Zappe appears to be the odd man out.
It may have led them to Grier, who plays a similar game to Jones. He's not the trendy mobile quarterback that is taking over the NFL right now, as he is a pocket passer. But the most significant part of his game that has stood out is his success with deep passing, something they continue to try implementing in games this season.
Grier feels more like a Belichick-type guy, and although he doesn't have the most impressive tape due to limited usage, he played pretty well in preseason for the Cowboys this summer.
It's possible that Grier was mainly signed to ensure they had their bases covered in case of an emergency at quarterback, and it's also possible that Zappe hasn't earned his coach's trust back since his disastrous preseason.
There's nothing wrong with bringing in some competition at a position that you're still uneasy about, and that could be all this is. But the effort Belichick is putting in to bring in another quarterback speaks volumes about his stance regarding Zappe as the QB2.
The one-time thought to be better than Jones quarterback will now be hoping to keep his spot on the roster for the rest of the season, and only time will tell if he will do enough to keep it.
Upcoming practices will probably provide more insight into Belichick's intentions, especially if Grier appears to impress with his performance.