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The Patriots are reportedly not prepared to pursue Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, even though the former MVP is available and apparently wants to play for New England. But that doesn't mean Mac Jones is safe as the Patriots' incumbent starter. Asked at this week's annual owners meetings if the former first-round pick will compete for the starting job this offseason, head coach Bill Belichick suggested as much, telling reporters "everybody will get a chance" under center.

Jones, 24, has drawn public support from Patriots owner Robert Kraft just two years after the team drafted him 15th overall. But Belichick refused to commit to Jones as his Week 1 starter for 2023: "Everybody will get a chance to play," he said. "We'll play the best players. ... Everybody that's on our roster, if they earn the opportunity to play, then based on what they do in practice and all that, then they'll get an opportunity to play. Certainly veteran players that have been on the team before, if they're still on the team, they'll all get an opportunity to play."

This isn't the first time Belichick has stopped short of naming Jones his permanent starter. Last October, after 2022 rookie Bailey Zappe briefly replaced an injured Jones, the coach declined to commit to the latter as his QB1 once healthy. Recently retired Patriots veteran Devin McCourty revealed this offseason that the locker room was split on which QB should remain on the field.

Jones was fairly productive during his rookie campaign, leading New England to a 10-7 finish and playoff appearance in 2021. He struggled mightily in between various injuries, and under a revised offensive coaching staff, in 2022.

Mac Jones
JAC • QB • #10
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Bailey Zappe
NE • QB • #4
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Behind closed doors, according to ESPN, the Patriots "are committed to seeing if Jones ... can get back on track" under new offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who worked under Belichick before. But they "also want to see him step up as a leader," per Mike Reiss, and "like the idea of Zappe -- who was seeing an increase in practice reps by the end of last season -- pushing him."