Patriots finalizing deal to send Mac Jones to Jaguars: Sources

Two years after reaching the Pro Bowl as a rookie who was viewed as the next franchise quarterback for the New England Patriots, Mac Jones is being sent to his hometown Jacksonville Jaguars as part of a trade that gives Jones a fresh start after a tumultuous last two years with the Patriots, team sources confirmed to The Athletic on Sunday.

The Patriots will acquire the Jaguars’ sixth-round pick in exchange for Jones, the sources said. The trade cannot be processed until the new league year, which begins Wednesday.

It’s the end of a labored saga between Jones and the Patriots, one that crumbled under three different offensive coordinators in three years and a locker room that lost faith in Jones amid his handling of multiple benchings from then-coach Bill Belichick.

For the Patriots, it’s the clearest sign yet of something that’s been known — that the Patriots are looking for a new quarterback. They’re expected to be active in the free-agent market for a veteran quarterback once negotiations are allowed at noon Monday, potentially eyeing a reunion with Jacoby Brissett. A move like that would still keep the option open for them to draft a quarterback with the No. 3 pick.

For Jones, it’s a much-needed re-set after trust fractured with the Patriots. After a promising rookie season, Belichick tapped former defensive specialist Matt Patricia to run the offense, and Jones’ production cratered from there. Relationships frayed too over disagreements with the way Jones was coached and how he behaved on the field. Then last season with Bill O’Brien running the team’s offense, Jones’ performance didn’t improve. He completed 65 percent of his passes in 11 starts, while throwing 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, eventually losing his job for good to Bailey Zappe. Now he heads to Jacksonville to backup Trevor Lawrence before Jones, the No. 15 pick in 2021, becomes a free agent next year.

For many in New England, the Jones era will all be about what could have been. With Josh McDaniels as offensive coordinator in 2021, Jones looked like an above average quarterback who — with the right coaching and progression — could become a top-10 one at the position. Instead, Jones got worse with each passing season, questioned the coaching he was getting, never had great weapons around him on offense and regressed so much by the end that the Patriots deemed he was unplayable.


How Bill Belichick’s mishandling of Mac Jones, offense, led to demise with Patriots

Now, Jones will spend the season under Doug Pederson (who, Patriots fans don’t need reminding, knows the value in a high-level backup considering his time with Nick Foles). Jones will work with Pederson, an offensive coach, and behind Lawrence not far from where he grew up. Then next year, he can push for a job in free agency that gives him another chance to start.

The Patriots, meanwhile, are expected to sign a veteran in the coming days. They had interest in Baker Mayfield, the second-best free agent quarterback, but that feeling doesn’t seem mutual. So now they’ll look to other options starting with Brissett, their third-round pick in 2016.

After that, the Patriots will turn their attention to the NFL Draft, where they’d like to take another attempt at drafting their next franchise quarterback. Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels are the most likely options at this point for the Patriots with the No. 3 pick.

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(Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

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