Patriots Reveal Surprise QB Pecking Order at First OTA Practice

Jan 7, 2024; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4)
Jan 7, 2024; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) / David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Monday was the first day of OTAs for the New England Patriots, so that means it's time to overreact. As the Patriot quarterbacks took the field for team's first real full practices, one surprising name was second in the lineup: Bailey Zappe.

Zappe, a fourth-round pick by the Patriots in 2022, could very well be fighting for a roster spot coming out of training camp, so the pecking order does come as a bit of a surprise. New England's decision to draft Joe Milton in the sixth round of last month's draft (in addition to Drake Maye third overall) isn't a promising sign for Zappe's future with the team.

The 25-year-old is entering his third season with the team and was a final roster cut casualty at the end of the last preseason, but went unclaimed on waivers and was signed to the Patriots' practice squad on Aug. 30. He was elevated to New England's active roster on Sept. 9.

Zappe appeared in four games in 2022 when Mac Jones went down, and the Patriots won both games that he started. He was once again thrust into action in 2023 when Jones' play became so abysmal that he was finally resigned to the bench. Zappe started the final six games of the year. Prior to his takeover as starter, New England had only won two of their first 11 games, but turned things around with him under center to win two of their last six.

In his career, Zappe has completed 63.2% of his passes for 2,053 yards, while throwing 11 touchdowns to 12 interceptions.

The order of reps could easily be as simple as the seniority among the group. Obviously, Maye and Milton are rookies, while Brissett and Zappe are the veterans of the group. With the hiring of new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt comes the installment of a new offensive system, which presumably the veterans would be better-positioned to tackle than the the newcomers.

Brissett, an eight-year journeyman QB, is widely expected to be New England's Week 1 starter and all signs from the first day of OTAs signal in that direction. In addition to being the first man up for reps, he also received the lion's share of the workload.

As the offseason program progresses, it will be interesting to see how the distribution of reps at the quarterback position continues to develop.

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