It was expected that the Patriots would make some roster moves leading up to the Raiders game this week as they hope to avoid another embarrassing loss. Bill Belichick alluded to those changes without going into any detail, but the latest update from NFL insiders seems to provide that answer.
ESPN's Mike Reiss revealed earlier this afternoon that rookie quarterback Malik Cunningham was signed to the 53-man roster ahead of the Week 6 matchup, and it was a significant move for a specific reason.
Besides putting more heat on Mac Jones to perform dramatically better than he's shown over the last two weeks, Cunningham's signing was not the typical simple elevation from the practice squad; it was a full-blown signing to the roster.
That means he will be a member of the game day team moving forward, a sign that bigger changes may be coming to the team in the weeks ahead.
It was more of an unexpected move by Bill Belichick, as it had been rumored the quarterback to replace Jones, if needed, would be veteran backup, Will Grier.
Because of his experience and the Patriots' interest in him since he was drafted in 2019, plus his fitting the mold of a New England quarterback, Grier was what most deemed to be the safest choice if a change at quarterback were to occur. But the signing of Cunningham seemingly indicates a change in direction with the offense, which may lead to an overhaul before the trade deadline or just for the rest of the season.
What it means for Jones will be interesting, especially if he has a repeat performance on Sunday as the Patriots visit the Raiders. Hopefully, that's not the case. But it wouldn't be surprising to see Cunningham get some reps in, regardless of how the QB1 looks in Las Vegas.
On top of Cunningham's signing, the Patriots also activated Tyquan Thornton after he had spent the start of the season on injured reserve and elevated wide receiver Jalen Reagor for Sunday's game.
With Demario Douglas and JuJu Smith-Schuster out, the offense will need all the help they can get to be successful, making it perfect timing for Thornton to return and see what Reagor can do in a new environment.