The New England Patriots’ quarterback depth continues to be a hot topic ahead of Week 1. New England’s strange handling of the backup situation has prompted more questions than answers, as the likes of Matt Corral, Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham are all in the running at the moment.
Though Corral is the de facto frontrunner, it turns out he wasn’t the Pats’ first choice for the role.
Patriots Quarterbacks 2023
In his Monday column, Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer shed some light on New England’s recent moves at QB. He revealed the team was eyeing a veteran signal-caller at backup who could “be a resource” to starter Mac Jones. Breer then said Houston Texans quarterback Case Keenum and Arizona Cardinals vet Colt McCot were the Pats’ initial targets.
"“They explored names like Case Keenum (who’d have to have been acquired via trade) and Colt McCoy (who is recovering from an elbow injury). Then Corral landed on waivers, after the Patriots had inquired with the Panthers on him, which changed the course and pushed a decision on it forward.”"
It makes a lot of sense for New England to go after a mentor-like QB2. Jones has received backing from Bill Belichick as the starter, which means the team’s main focus is on getting the best out of the former No. 15 overall pick. The likes of Keenum or McCoy don’t present a big threat to take his job and would instead be there to support the third-year pro.
If things do go south, then Keenum or McCoy both have the starting experience to step up as well. Keenum’s made 64 starts across 10 seasons in the league while McCoy has 36 starts to his name.
Though this news paints Corral as basically the Plan C here, it’s not all bad for him. The Patriots subjecting both Zappe and Cunningham to waivers shows some skepticism in their abilities to take on the QB2 role right now. Claiming Corral and using a roster spot on him is a bigger show of support than either Zappe or Cunningham has received this offseason.
With New England clearly interested in adding an experienced signal-caller, however, Corral is far from entrenched in the backup role. He’ll need to impress from the jump to prevent the Pats from getting wandering eyes.
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