Mac Jones' rookie deal provides options

Mac Jones’ rookie deal provides options

The Patriots swung a trade last week to acquire DeVante Parker. It was a welcome move following a start to free agency that didn’t include the addition of a single offensive weapon. It was especially good news for Mac Jones, who could use some additional help as he continues his development in his second season with the Patriots.

The offense isn’t completely devoid of talent. Jones has a pair of running backs in Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson who provide solid production, and a pair of tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith who also are capable of chipping in. Adding Parker to a group of wideouts that includes Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and Jakobi Meyers should increase the options in the passing game for Jones, which obviously should in turn help the offense progress.

While Parker’s presence is important for obvious reasons, there’s also an ancillary benefit to adding him to the mix. Having Jones on just the second year of his rookie deal can be an advantage for any team as it allows for more money to be spent elsewhere on the roster. In theory, Bill Belichick can spend more on acquiring offensive personnel (like Parker) because Jones’ modest salary doesn’t take up much cap space.

But that’s only part of the equation. It’s true that Jones will potentially play four seasons with modest salaries, allowing for more money to be spent around him. But that won’t matter as much if questions about the supporting cast linger during much of that time.

The Parker acquisition helps, but many (myself included) still feel selecting a receiver early in the draft would make sense. The idea of ​​having an affordable quarterback only works if he has enough talent around him to succeed. The last thing Belichick wants is for Jones to play the next couple of seasons with lingering doubts about the caliber of weapons at his disposal.

In other words, it’s great that Jones is cheap but it’s far more important that the Patriots find out as quickly as possible if he is worthy of being the team’s franchise quarterback of the future. In order to best figure that out, it would seem the Patriots might want to continue adding pieces to ensure he has every opportunity to succeed. Those pieces would then in turn be allowed to develop alongside the quarterback.

There’s a lot of talk about the advantages of having an established quarterback on a rookie deal, but of more significance is finding out for sure if he’s the guy. In recent seasons the Chiefs, Browns, Bears and Bills all had young quarterbacks on rookie deals. The Chiefs and Bills obviously got enough information on Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen to feel comfortable moving forward with them on big extensions. The Browns and Bears weren’t convinced, and Mitchell Trubisky was sent packing while Baker Mayfield will soon be gone as well.

These decisions aren’t always easy like they were in Kansas City and Buffalo. The other two created a lot of uncertainty in their towns, which is the last place you want to be. Looking at Cleveland specifically, the Browns provided Mayfield with plenty of weapons to better guide their choice. He had Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt in the backfield, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham at wideout and tight ends David Njoku and Austin Hooper. When he still couldn’t establish much consistency with that solid corps of weapons, Cleveland moved on and gambled on Deshaun Watson.

Even with that level of talent it was not a cut and dried decision. Mayfield showed flashes, and Cleveland waited to see if there was more there before moving on. The fact that Mayfield had plenty of help and still couldn’t establish himself likely forced Cleveland’s hand.

If Jones doesn’t get much more to work with, it would be easy to envision debates raging about his level of development in the future. Opinions vary on how much of Jones’ late-season struggles were on him last season or due to a lack of weapons. If Jones continues forward with some highs and lows, and the Patriots cast of characters on offense remains similar, those debates won’t subside.

Having Jones on an affordable deal is great because it potentially increases the talent around him. Assuming that’s the case, it’s more important because it will give Belichick a better idea of ​​exactly the kind of quarterback he is before any decisions on his future would need to be made.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.