Along with the conversations about who will be or who won't be traded by the Patriots before the deadline later today have been debates regarding the future of Mac Jones in New England.
Besides the typical "Is he the guy or not?" discussions, many have expressed their desire to see the quarterback traded this year, as he has continuously not performed well and has been the cause of some of the team's biggest losses.
So when it was announced that Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins suffered a season-ending Achilles injury, the internet in New England exploded, with fans taking to their social media accounts to demand Minnesota to trade for Jones. Now that the deadline is nearing, if the Patriots were to move on from Jones, it would have to happen now or wait until next offseason.
But there's a problem with that line of thinking. Despite the cries for Bill Belichick to finally prove that he doesn't believe Jones is the quarterback of the future in New England, it makes little to no sense for either team to want the trade to take place.
The Patriots don't have any viable backup ready to take over in Jones' place. It's clear that Malik Cunningham, Will Grier, and Bailey Zappe are not better than what they're getting out of Jones. If that were the case, we would've seen it when he was benched in the two games earlier this season or if Belichick had decided to bench him altogether to replace him with one of the others.
That's a point that NFL insider Adam Schefter reiterated during an appearance on "The Pat McAfee Show" on Monday, explaining why it would mean more than just admitting that Jones was not the right guy for the job in New England.
"Mac Jones is interesting, but then that’s New England just cashing out on its season. Because one of the reasons the Patriots haven’t made a quarterback change is they just don’t have another guy right now that they feel they can turn to. So, if you’re trading away Mac Jones in a season that’s gone south anyway, OK, but that’s checking out at less than the halfway mark, which just seems a little strange to me when they like Mac Jones and they don’t have another guy."
The point is being overlooked by the fans and media members who have already decided they are done with Jones and want a new quarterback. For some reason, they firmly believe that almost any other option would be an upgrade over the current QB1 despite ultimately knowing that's not true.
Belichick has never been the type of coach not to do what he believes is best for the team; no matter how much people disagree with something, he will do it if he feels it's right. Are we really supposed to believe that he is keeping Jones in as the quarterback despite knowing there is a different quarterback on the roster that would be more successful? Absolutely not.
Then there's the part of what the Vikings would be willing to give up in a trade for Jones and if it would even be worth it for the Patriots to move forward with. We know they wouldn't get a return on their investment in a first-round pick, but what would be an acceptable trade?
Schefter also discussed that point, revealing he hasn't heard any whispers about either side being interested in a trade, nor is it easy to think of a fair swap when debating the hypothetical trade.
"Let’s say Minnesota wanted Mac Jones — and this is the first I’ve heard of it. What do the Vikings give up for him? And what are the Patriots willing to trade him for? It’s hard to come up with that equation to make it work for both sides."
It's probably not an answer that some fans were hoping to hear, but at this moment in time, with just hours until the trade deadline, it appears to be the truth.
If Mac Jones is traded, that's confirmation of Bill Belichick tanking the season?
With the calls for Jones to be traded has also been the yearning for the Patriots to tank the rest of the season for a better first-round draft pick in 2024. The idea sparked more conversation with the idea of Jones being traded, which would essentially confirm Belichick waving the white flag for the remainder of this season.
Other than that being an uncharacteristic move by the well-known competitive head coach, it would also put him in an awkward position with the rest of the team. Not only would they demand answers about why their quarterback was traded, but they would also take issue with the premise of giving up on a season at the halfway point.
Unlike what some have convinced themselves to be true, tanking in the NFL is a far bigger risk that makes almost no sense for any team ever to do. It's not an active decision made by just one person and accomplished by that one person. Tanking is a collective effort by all involved because if it wasn't, how would they achieve losing the rest of the way?
And that's the most common misconception people seem to have when demanding the Patriots purposely lose the next nine games.
The coaching staff would be asking players to actively participate in a scheme to lose games to help ensure they get a better draft selection that only benefits the team. Performing poorly almost exclusively impacts the players and the players alone, especially those on the final year of their contracts.
What player in their right mind would ever agree to intentionally play poorly, risking their value, future, and potential paycheck just to help the team that likely won't re-sign them to get a better first-round draft pick?
Does that seem like a good idea to anyone? It shouldn't because it's a foolish request.
On top of that, if the league finds out you're actively trying to lose games, that seems like something they could punish you for, no? And what about pending free agent players that you would like to entice to play for New England next offseason? Seeing the team purposely lose games just for a higher draft pick doesn't seem like a recipe for success in that department.
It is a lot of unnecessary steps to be seated higher in the first round when the reality of the situation allows you to trade up if that's what the Patriots want to do. It wouldn't be cheap, but it's much easier than getting an entire team on board with losing.
So overall, moving on from Jones doesn't make any sense, no matter how the rest of the season goes or if he is retained next year. It's an unfortunate situation the Patriots are in right now, but a lot of that is on the shoulders of Belichick, who will now have to reap what he sows for the rest of the 2023 season.