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Report: Mac Jones ‘most likely' leaving Patriots this offseason

Report: Mac Jones ‘most likely' leaving Patriots this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Mac Jones era in New England appears all but over after three seasons.

NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero, and Mike Garafolo reported on Sunday that Jones "most likely" will have a new team for 2024. The 2021 first-round pick, who had a promising rookie season, is coming off his second consecutive letdown campaign as the Patriots' starting quarterback.

"Even though Bill Belichick is gone, former first-round pick Mac Jones -- who lost the starting role and ended up third string by the end of the 2023 season -- is a trade candidate in the coming weeks and most likely will end up elsewhere for the 2024 season," the report reads.

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Jones went 2-9 last season as New England's starter before being benched for the remainder of the year in favor of Bailey Zappe. The 25-year-old threw for 2,120 yards with 10 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

With the Patriots owning the third overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Jones' departure would come as little surprise. Jerod Mayo and the new regime in Foxboro will "seriously explore taking one of the draft’s top QBs," according to Rapoport. USC's Caleb Williams, UNC's Drake Maye, and LSU's Jayden Daniels are the consensus top signal-callers in the class.

Last month, it was reported the Patriots "don't plan on" picking up Jones' fifth-year option. That decision is due by May, though the NFL Media report suggests Jones could be traded well before then.

A change of scenery may benefit Jones, who earned a Pro Bowl nod while leading the Patriots into the playoffs as a rookie. There's an argument to be made that he was set up to fail in New England with a severe lack of talent around him. With the Pats set to rebuild for 2024 and beyond, a parting of ways seems to be the best possible outcome for both sides.