Mac Jones jumped up to +450 to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year after the news of Cam Newton's release. Jones had the fifth-best odds at +800 earlier Tuesday morning and now has the second-best odds behind Trevor Lawrence on PointsBet.
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I wrote about the ROY odds last week and didn't feel great about Jones' chances unless he took over as the starting quarterback in the first couple weeks of the season.
In the last ten years, five QBs have won the award and all five played in at least 15 regular season games, so getting on the field early felt like a prerequisite. And unless Bill Belichick shocks us all by starting Brian Hoyer (who was used in mop-up duty during the preseason games), it looks like Jones will get a shot to put together a full season.
There's a good chance that Mac Jones will win more games than the rest of the candidates, but that typically doesn't matter. Dak Prescott (2016) and Robert Griffin III (2012) both won the award while leading their teams to the playoffs but Justin Herbert (2020), Kyler Murray (2019) and Cam Newton (2011) all played for losing teams.
Putting up gaudy numbers is far more impactful. Prescott and RGIII had the third-best passer rating in the NFL during the years they won. Newton was 10th on that list and Herbert was 12th in their rookie campaigns.
Murray is the outlier with the 21st passer rating in 2019, but he had better numbers than the rest of the field and also added over 500 rushing yards. Mac Jones won't have the benefit of padding his stats as a dual-threat QB so he's going to have to be more efficient through the air.
I think there's a chance that playing for the Patriots might even work against Jones in this situation. He's playing for the best coach in the NFL with arguably one of the best offensive coordinators in Josh McDaniels. Plenty of outsiders will suggest that he has an advantage because of that and I wouldn't be surprised if it's held against him.
The Patriots are also expected to be a strong running team with a solid defense. Jones likely won't be asked to do as much as Lawrence, Zach Wilson or Justin Fields.
And rattling off those names is another factor: This could be one of the strongest fields since RGIII beat out Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck in 2012.
Alas, here are your favorites...
Trevor Lawrence, Jacksonville Jaguars (+350)
The Jaguars have already named Lawrence their Week 1 starter, which was expected after they grabbed him with the first overall pick back in late April. Lawrence opened at +250 prior to the NFL Draft.
Mac Jones, New England Patriots (+450)
Jones dropped to +1100 after the Patriots drafted him and plateaued around +800 until the news of Cam Newton's release. After becoming the apparent starter, Jones went from fifth (+800) to second.
Zach Wilson, New York Jets (+600)
Wilson has been the presumed starter for the Jets since the off-season. He actually was +800 after being drafted by New York and was +500 until Newton's release, which pushed him back to +600.
Justin Fields, Chicago Bears (+700)
Matt Nagy has said that Andy Dalton will be the Bears starter in the season opener. But it only feels like a matter of time before the 11th overall pick finds his way onto the field. The only question is whether or not he'll get the opportunity to put up comparable numbers to those getting the nod out of the gate.
Trey Lance, San Francisco 49ers (+750)
The 49ers paid a premium to jump up in the draft and nab Lance with the third overall pick. Say what you want about Jimmy Garoppolo, but Lance will have to overtake a QB who led San Francisco into the Super Bowl just two years ago. Kyle Shanahan has yet to declare a starter, but Jimmy G. is expected to be the guy.