What Nathan Rourke’s release means for Patriots QB Bailey Zappe

Bailey Zappe is the last man standing from the New England Patriots’ 2023 quarterbacks room.

Malik Cunningham was signed to the Baltimore Ravens last season. Meanwhile, Mac Jones was traded in free agency, and Nathan Rourke was released on Monday.

Zappe-Mania is no longer running wild, and the former fourth-round draft pick out of Western Kentucky is clinging like a hair on a biscuit in a much-improved quarterbacks room ahead of the 2024 season.

Is the end coming for Zappe? That’s the immediate question following the release of Rourke.

The Patriots clearly weren’t keeping five quarterbacks on their roster. So it was no surprise to see the former CFL standout get cut after the team drafted rookies Drake Maye and Joe Milton III in April. They weren’t going to take reps away from their promising young signal-callers for Rourke.

However, things might not be as cut and dry for Zappe, who has started eight games in total for the Patriots over the last two seasons. Veteran Jacoby Brissett projects as the top quarterback due to his experience running Alex Van Pelt’s offense, while Maye works behind the scenes getting up to speed. But right out of the gates, Zappe should at the very least make the top-three on the depth chart.

Milton isn’t a lock as a sixth-round pick, and he’s going to have to show more than just a cannon arm to make the roster. The thinking is Zappe will have an opportunity to compete on the practice field.

Now, if Milton has a strong showing throughout the practices, it could put Zappe’s roster spot in jeopardy. What happens at quarterback will ultimately be fueled by how far along Maye and Milton are in the process by the end of training camp.

That alone sets the stage for one of the more intriguing quarterback battles in recent memory. Zappe still has a fighting chance, and it won’t be long before we see what he makes of it.

Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire