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Patriots signing Bailey Zappe, Malik Cunningham to practice squad after QBs clear waivers

Bailey Zappe is back in New England with a different role.

Instead of serving as Mac Jones' backup quarterback, the Patriots are putting Zappe behind the taxi squad glass. He's rejoining New England as part of the team's practice squad, NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported on Wednesday.

Preseason favorite Malik Cunningham has also cleared waivers and is returning to the Patriots as a member of the practice squad, per Pelissero.

Several teams sought Zappe's talents after he cleared waivers, per Pelissero, but ultimately, Zappe opted to return to New England, where the Patriots will keep him in a group that doesn't count against the 53-man roster but could be called upon in case of emergency.

It's great to hear familiarity still carries weight in the transactional environment of pro sports, but Wednesday's news means the Patriots still don't have a proper backup quarterback. New England's depth chart consists of Jones and no one else, with Zappe in the next category below and the Patriots seeking a veteran to dress behind Jones.

Who that veteran ends up being remains to be determined. But after Zappe went 2-0 as a rookie starter and Zappe Fever gripped New England for a few weeks last season, this week's events are a surprise. The former Western Kentucky standout has gone from a potential threat to Jones' standing as the team's franchise quarterback to a signal-caller deemed unworthy of one of 53 roster spots.

Cunningham, meanwhile, took on additional work as both a receiver and quarterback, exciting Patriots fans with a rushing touchdown as a signal-caller in Week 1 of the preseason.

Neither's contributions were enough to make the Patriots feel comfortable with their situation behind Jones entering the season.

Even after being informed of his release, Zappe wasn't ready to start packing his belongings, while Cunningham was still only just getting settled in New England. They'll both stick around as practice squad members, continuing to follow the Patriot Way -- this time, in less significant roles.

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