Is Bailey Zappe the ‘elephant’ in the Patriots QB room?




Patriots

“Everyone is going to have an opportunity to go out there and prove they can be that guy.”

Bailey Zappe was still No. 2 on New England’s depth chart during OTAs on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Bailey Zappe’s time in Foxborough might be coming to a close.

It’s far from a random offseason musing or unsubstantiated speculation — his own teammate and fellow quarterback summed up Zappe’s current perilous situation on New England’s depth chart.

“Man, I like Zap a lot. He just goes out there and competes,” Jacoby Brissett said of Zappe after Wednesday’s OTA session. “And, the elephant in the room … this is a tough situation for him, and he’s accepted that. He’s going out there every day, and competed, and is doing a really good job, and making a lot of plays. I’m excited for his growth.”

Despite starting the final six games of the 2023 season, Zappe’s long-term future with the Patriots is murky after New England’s concerted effort toward overhauling its QB corps during the winter.

New England used its highest draft selection in decades to bring in a potential franchise QB in Drake Maye. They signed a veteran stopgap in Brissett to a one-year, $8 million deal, while also using another draft pick to bring in Joe Milton III in the sixth round. 

Even Jerod Mayo — who noted earlier this month that the Patriots will likely start “paring down” their roster before training camp — admitted Zappe is in a far from enviable spot at this stage of the offseason. 

“I would put him in the same category that we talked about Brian (Belichick) — like how it’s awkward for Brian and he’s handled it well,” Mayo said of Zappe. “The same thing with Zappe. I think he’s handled it fantastically. He’s getting reps out here. You guys see him out here and I would say he’s getting better.”

If the Patriots are focused on dealing away Zappe in the coming months, it hasn’t been reflected so far during OTAs. During 11-on-11 drills Wednesday, Zappe followed behind Brissett for reps — with Maye third in line among signal-callers. 

“I guess you could say it’s awkward the first few times you meet each other, because you don’t really know each other yet,” Zappe said. “But once you get to know each other, you understand everyone has the same common goal, and that’s to win games. … We all get along well. There really hasn’t been any true awkwardness. … Now, it’s running smooth and it’s a great quarterback room.”

Even if the Patriots want to give Maye plenty of time to marinate before throwing him into NFL games, New England does have that buffer already on the roster in Brissett, who can take the keys to the team’s offense out of the gate if Maye needs more time to develop. 

But even if a Brissett-Maye tandem appears to be the logical path moving forward for New England and its QB grouping in 2024, Zappe isn’t focused on any path outside of the one that he’s currently on with the Patriots. 

“They’ve told all of us, this is going to be a competition. Everyone is going to have an opportunity to go out there and prove they can be that guy,” Zappe said. “All four of us are going to do our best to do that. And whoever gets that job, the other three of us are going to help that guy do whatever he can to win games.”





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