This might be the final nail in the coffin for Mac Jones with the Patriots

Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots
Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots / Billie Weiss/GettyImages

For much of the last two seasons, the conversation surrounding Mac Jones has been less than favorable, and his performance during the 2023 season made the discussion even harsher. The consensus seems ready to move on from the young quarterback, with the Patriots having the third overall pick to put them in contention for one of the top players at the position in the draft.

So, for the most part, fans and the media are ready to see someone other than Jones or Bailey Zappe under center.

Because of that, rumors have circulated about Jerod Mayo potentially trading Jones away this offseason to a team that feels they can get him back to rookie form. Others have reported that the new head coach may see that with their staff for the 2024 season, mainly Alex Van Pelt, who is known for working with and developing quarterbacks during his career.

But there's a dark cloud hanging over Jones's head, and it would likely create a storm if he did return to the Patriots next season. Reporters like Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer believe it wouldn't be a good decision for New England to do that, as he and most others feel Jones is a lost cause in New England.

On top of that, there was allegedly more drama behind the scenes than initially thought, especially in the quarterback room. Breer discussed how things got to that point in a recent article, revealing things had become "toxic" at Gillette Stadium over the last two seasons.

"He was well-liked early on, but, over time, lost support in the building. And the quarterback room he was in the last two years got toxic, to the point where Bailey Zappe, as a rookie, sometimes watched tape in the receiver room.”

It's not exactly breaking news that there was tension behind the scenes, as it was clear to almost everyone who watched most Patriots games during the last couple of years. It seemed to have hit its peak last season, though, as Jones' performance drastically declined, which led to being taken out of four games before being outright benched to end 2023.

The relationship between the quarterback and Bill Belichick was clearly strained, with speculation suggesting the head coach wanted to trade Jones last offseason, but Robert Kraft wouldn't allow it to happen. That's likely what contributed to the chaos on and off the field, which made it seem like Jones could have a new start once Belichick announced he was leaving the team last month.

That may not be the case, though, according to Breer, who said too much damage has been done for Jones to be able to bounce back from in New England.

"That’s a lot of wounds. Some self-inflicted, some not, to try and heal, and wounds that Jerod Mayo saw surface with his own eyes as a Patriots assistant. You can’t snap your fingers and make that history disappear with coaches and staff."

Breer further discusses his point by hypothesizing how Mayo and the Patriots would be viewed if they were to give Jones another chance, and it doesn't go well. It wouldn't be a great look for the new head coach and staff because history had told them how he would likely perform, therefore creating another uncomfortable environment for the entire team.

"What happens if Jones comes back and has some bumps in the offseason, in camp or in an early game? Everyone will point right back to the history. Which makes for a tough environment for Jones to try and move forward in, and potentially a tough spot for Mayo to dig his first team out of."

It's certainly a good point, but it could be a risk Mayo is willing to take if he intends on prioritizing building up the offense around the quarterback this year instead of upgrading the position itself. We'll have to wait and see, but don't rule out a Jones return just yet.

On the other hand, if there is even a smidge of accuracy to the reports about Jones contributing to a toxic work environment, Mayo could be left with no choice but to move on. He can't start his tenure as a head coach in the NFL with a dysfunctional team, mainly since many players have already spoken out about how difficult the last couple of seasons have been.

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