Malik Cunningham Turned Patriots Down to Pursue Ravens Opportunity

More details have emerged on Malik Cunningham's exit from the New England Patriots.
Dec 7, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  New England Patriots quarterback Malik Cunningham (16)
Dec 7, 2023; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Malik Cunningham (16) / Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The biggest piece of non-coaching news involving the New England Patriots right now is the departure of promising rookie Malik Cunningham. The Louisville product was stolen off of the Pats' practice squad on Tuesday by the Baltimore Ravens, who offered him a spot on their 53-man roster.

It turns out New England, though, attempted to keep Cunningham before he agreed to join Baltimore.

Head coach Belichick was asked about Cunningham's departure at his Wednesday press conference. He noted that while the Patriots wanted him to stay, the Ravens "sold him" on the chance to play quarterback and learn from fellow Cardinal standout Lamar Jackson.

These comments just highlight how much New England fumbled this opportunity to develop an intriguing young player. The team insisted on using him in practice as a wide receiver for a majority of the season before he got serious looks under center, which put him behind in terms of learning the offense.

When QB problems popped up, Cunningham would've been the ideal choice to take the reigns as the Patriots assessed his long-term potential. Instead, they played around with his roster status (signing him to the 53-man roster before waiving him) and position, which set the stage for an exit if the right team came calling.

It speaks volumes that Cunningham would take a clear backup role in Baltimore versus sticking around in New England's uncertain QB room. He obviously feels like the Ravens provide a better environment to hone his craft as a signal-caller, and no one can blame him considering how Belichick has handled his first year as a pro.

If the Pats really wanted to keep Cunningham around, then he should've never been cut from the 53-man roster in the first place. This is just another example of poor personnel management from Belichick, whose time in New England may be winding down because of failures like this one.

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