Patriots might be scouting a Mac Jones replacement

It’s no secret that the New England Patriots weren’t thrilled with Mac Jones last season. The former first-round pick struggled with Matt Patricia as his offensive coordinator.

In some sense, Bill Belichick and Patricia are to blame for the former first-round pick’s struggles last season. He’d made strides in his first NFL season, but took a huge step back in 2022, and was even benched in favor of Bailey Zappe at one point.

So, who will the Patriots go with at quarterback next season? Jones is the early frontrunner, if only because New England has a lot invested in him and they brought in a new offensive coordinator — Bill O’Brien.

That ought to help Jones grow more accustomed to an NFL offense, and improve his mechanics as a passer. But the Patriots may have an under-the-radar backup plan.

New England was one of many teams to meet with Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson, who is projected to be the fourth QB taken in this year’s draft. The Pats own the 14th-overall selection in this year’s draft.

Patriots rumors: Will New England draft Florida’s Anthony Richardson?

If anyone would know how talented Anthony Richardson is, it’s O’Brien. The former Alabama offensive coordinator coached in the SEC, and while he didn’t directly prepare for the Gators QB since both were on the offensive side of the ball, he was fully aware of Richardson’s talent level.

This isn’t the first time that New England has met with a highly-touted quarterback. In 2018, they met with Baker Mayfield, who was eventually selected No. 1 by the Cleveland Browns. Belichick is one to do his due diligence with every draft prospect, especially quarterbacks.

Given Jones struggles last year, however, he shouldn’t get too comfortable. Richardson has a lot of potential as a dual-threat QB and might be a better fit for O’Brien’s offense.

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