There's been a lot of chatter about Mac Jones this offseason, and not much of it positive.
There were reports that the New England Patriots quarterback landed in Bill Belichick's proverbial "doghouse" last season by going outside the organization to seek out new ideas for the offense. There was public discussion of Jones' on-field histrionics, with former players criticizing the QB for not keeping his cool on the sideline.
Jones didn't exactly shine on the field, either, ranking 28th among 31 qualified quarterbacks in ESPN's QBR metric last season as the Patriots missed the postseason for the second time in three seasons.
So, would all of those factors compel New England to trade Jones -- perhaps to a team like Josh McDaniels' Las Vegas Raiders -- before he becomes a free agent in 2025?
Curran: Setting the stakes for Mac Jones in Year 3 with Patriots
Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran joined The Rich Eisen Show on Wednesday and firmly shut down the notion that the team would trade Jones -- in 2023, at least.
"Absolutely, positively not," Curran told Eisen. "That would happen over Robert Kraft's dead body. We'll talk about that in 2024 if it's another mediocre season, but this notion that the Patriots would move on from Mac Jones after last July at the outset of training camp, when Bill Belichick talked about Mac Jones making drastic improvements from an already highly-impressive rookie year...
"If they now want to move on from him and his ($ 4.25 million) salary because of what happened in 2022? Well, who's holding the smoking gun for what happened? The coach!"
To Curran's point, the Patriots put Jones in a tough spot last season by thrusting Matt Patricia and Joe Judge into key offensive coaching roles, despite neither having prior experience calling offensive plays. While Belichick has plenty of leeway when it comes to personnel decisions, there's no way he'd be able to sell Kraft on trading Jones this offseason, considering the 24-year-old's favorable contract ($ 4.25 million cap hit in 2023) and the situation Belichick himself put Jones in last season.
"I think if Bill walked to Robert Kraft and said, 'I'm thinking about moving on from Mac here; he was really surly,' I think Robert Kraft would say, 'Are you out of your mind? When he's making $ 4 million? He was a good player last year, he's a bad player now and you want to move on from him? Why is that?' And (Belichick) would have to say, 'Well, we did nothing to help him,'" Curran said.
The Patriots do face an important decision with Jones in 2024, when they'll need to decide whether to pick up his fifth-year option for 2025, which could be worth north of $ 30 million. But in 2023, New England should at least see how Jones fares with a capable offensive coordinator in Bill O'Brien.
"I think that any speculation that Mac Jones would be trade bait or considered a trade object in 2023 is stupid," Curran added. "Next year might be a different story with him entering the final year of his contract, whether or not the Patriots pick up his fifth-year option. But this year? Absolutely not."
"I think the Patriots owe themselves and Mac Jones the opportunity to see what they have in the 15th overall pick."