New England Patriots Make Quarterback Bailey Zappe a Surprise Cut

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is still full of surprises. The Pats shockingly waived second-year quarterback Bailey Zappe on Tuesday afternoon before the NFL's roster cutdown deadline. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport broke the news.

The Patriots also released quarterbacks Trace McSorley and Malik Cunningham, leaving incumbent Mac Jones as the only passer on the team's 53-man roster. So much for any supposed quarterback controversy.

It's a frankly stunning move by the Patriots. Zappe was a fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft and wildly over-delivered in his rookie season, winning both of his starts while throwing for 781 yards and an excellent 7.56 net yards per attempt. He rightly earned praise from fellow players and even Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Zappe's release can only be read as an aggressive, all-in commitment to Jones, which is also a surprise. The Patriots had reportedly lost confidence in the 2021 first-round pick this offseason and even allegedly entertained trading him. Jones struggled in 2022 after a promising rookie season, netting 5.81 yards per passing attempt and throwing for a mere 214.1 yards per game. As a result, the Patriots finished with a losing record for only the third time since Belichick arrived in 2000.

Six Super Bowl rings buy a coach a lot of leeway, but it's hard to believe Belichick will be able to find a backup quarterback on a cheaper contract with a similar upside to Zappe. Inevitably, the Patriots will settle for worse value at QB2 in the coming days unless they have another major surprise up their sleeves.

Cutting Zappe certainly nips any potential quarterback controversy in the bud, but it's an awfully ironic move for the Patriots. This is the team that chose to roll with little-known sixth-round pick Tom Brady over franchise icon and former first-overall pick Drew Bledsoe in 2001, after all. Competition at quarterback worked out pretty well for the Patriots back then.

Photo Credit: © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports