It's an odd situation, but the Patriots having one QB on the roster 11 days before they play their first game isn't a big deal. The Eagles don't have a punter. The Rams don't have a kicker. Are we worried those clubs won't find someone to put the foot into football? No.
The Patriots will add another QB in the coming days. At the very least, one will get added to the practice squad and elevated for games. These early-period transactions are often made to get an injured player onto injured reserve with the eligibility to return (if a player is placed on IR before the initial 53-man roster is set, his season is over). Then, the roster building continues as fluidly as a gushing river until the Super Bowl.
But the decisions to cut Zappe and Cunningham do say a few things:
- Zappe struggled this preseason
- New England either isn't afraid of another club snagging Cunningham or is comfortable if that happens
- Any notion of a QB battle between Zappe and Jones was fiction.
"Obviously, Mac is our quarterback. We've got a lot of belief in him," Patriots special teams standout Matthew Slater said on Tuesday, via The Boston Globe. "We support him. I'm sure, and I don't know much, but I'm sure there will be another quarterback at some point and time. You don't usually go into a game with one quarterback.
"But Mac's done a tremendous job of working and improving in all facets on the field and off the field. We all have a great deal of confidence in him moving forward."
Jones enters a pivotal 2023 campaign. After showing rookie flashes, the QB was far too inconsistent last year in an admittedly no-win situation with Matt Patricia calling plays. With Bill O'Brien now calling the shots, Jones must show development.
So far, he's won over teammates.
"He makes it fun to go out there and play," tight end Mike Gesicki said. "We're always joking around, but when it's time to lock in, he's leading the offense and has done a great job.
"He throws a really catchable ball, has really good timing and understands concepts, spacing and routes. He understands when guys are getting ready to break based off of leverage and all that kind of stuff. It's been awesome going through training camp with him."
Slater called the decision to cut Zappe "surprising," but he and most of the Pats players have learned not to be too stunned by NFL transactions.
"I know [Zappe] will land on his feet and do a great job," Slater said. "And I also trust that coach [Bill Belichick] is doing what's in the best interest of the football team and putting us in the best position to have success. So, you know, mixed emotions on that. I love Bailey, he knows how I feel about him. He's one of my favorite kids of all time."
Once the waiver period passes on Wednesday and clubs begin assembling practice squads, we'll have a better idea where Zappe will land and who New England will add to the QB room.