Mac Jones For Deshaun Watson? Making Sense Of Recent Patriots Chatter

Is Bill Belichick down on Mac Jones?


October 12, 2021

Some interesting bits of conflicting New England Patriots reporting slipped through the cracks last week.

And along the way, they produced this wild trade idea: Mac Jones for Deshaun Watson.

First, a quick summation of the situation in Houston. Watson, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, requested a trade after last season amid his mounting frustration with the Texans. Houston initially insisted it would not deal the superstar signal-caller, but subsequent reporting indicated Patriots executive-turned-Texans general manager Nick Caserio had softened his stance.

During the spring, Watson was hit with over 20 civil lawsuits alleging varying degrees of sexual misconduct. Virtually all trade speculation disappeared.

Now, still adamant about never playing for the Texans again, the 26-year-old is part of Houston’s 53-man roster but hasn’t come close to playing all season. All reporting suggests Watson eventually will play somewhere else. But thus far other NFL teams, warry either of Houston’s asking price or Watson’s unresolved legal issues (or both), haven’t executed a trade for the three-time Pro Bowler.

That brings us to last Friday’s episode of “Felger & Mazz” on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

WCVB-TV’s Chris Gasper, someone well-connected with the Patriots, indicated that Belichick and the Patriots might look to move Jones as soon as this offseason. Gasper didn’t say that New England is down on Jones; rather, that Belichick, with an eye on Don Shula’s all-time wins (including postseason) record, might believe Jones is a year or two away from performing at a championship-caliber level.

Shula has 347 wins while Belichick has 313.

It all started when Michael Felger read an email that Gasper sent prior to appearing on the show.

“I think Bill is coming to realize that his system doesn’t really work without high-level quarterback play,” the email read, “And he can’t wait around for Mac to be elite if he wants to catch Shula.”

The ensuing discussion included a lot of what certainly sounded like informed speculation. Gasper’s coy, wink-wink answers seemingly indicated he knew more than he was willing to reveal.

(We recommend clicking here to listen to Gasper’s segment, and fast-forwarding to the 20-minute mark.)

When asked why he believes Belichick has reached the alleged realization about Jones, Gasper, smiling, offered the following:

“Just a feeling. … Just a feeling that, maybe, that’s something that’s been brought up to (Belichick),” he said. “I don’t know how willing he would be to accept it at this point. But it’s a more collaborative process these days and maybe there’s some thought that this system works best with a quarterback who can — look, would we all agree that Deshaun Watson is capable of making the guys around him better? So, that type of quarterback.

” … I’m not saying that they’re out on Mac Jones, but there might be this realization of, ‘OK, our system is more efficient and works better with a certain type of quarterback that can elevate the people around him. And, how long do we have to wait for Mac to be that quarterback?’ … I’m not saying they don’t think he’s capable of being that guy eventually, but how long do you want to wait? And if Deshaun Watson ends up being a distressed asset… Bill really likes Deshaun Watson and has always praised him.

Gasper added: ” … I’m just saying, keep an eye on that. … If it’s a 6-11 type of season, or a 7-10 type of season … if they have another type of those seasons, Bill’s not someone who looks at evidence and ignores it. … Like I said, they love a distressed asset, and isn’t Deshaun Watson a distressed asset?”

The next day, Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal, citing his own sources with the Patriots, pushed back against Gasper’s claims about Jones.

Here’s an excerpt from his Saturday morning column:

Let me get this straight … there are people who actually think Mac Jones has underachieved so far this season?

And, for full transparency, I heard this for the first time on “Felger & Mazz” on Friday with Chris Gasper, who basically insinuated the Patriots aren’t happy with Jones and could deal him in the offseason, and thinks Jones has not done enough to elevate the team.

As to the former, there is absolutely no truth that is being talked about within the Patriots. Gasper is very plugged in and I respect him immensely, so I checked. Someone could have told him that, absolutely. Never hurts to double-check.

I was met with pretty much laughter across the board. The Patriots are very excited where Jones is, and for his future.

So, what should be made of all this?

Honestly, it’s hard to have a take either way.

On one hand, Gasper’s reporting/speculation/conjecture — particularly the potential Watson trade pursuit — seems unlikely. The Patriots reportedly discussed a Watson trade before the legal issues cropped up, but would they really consider moving Jones for a player with that much baggage?

On the other hand, there was some logic to what Gasper said and, again, he doesn’t have a track record of saying things without merit.

As for Bedard, his and Gasper’s reporting don’t need to be mutually exclusive. Belichick and the Patriots can be very high on Jones while also being open to acquiring a quarterback who accelerates their path back to a Super Bowl.

It’s a lot to think about, and a bit overwhelming. But if nothing else, Patriots fans might want to keep their ears and eyes open for any additional reporting on this convoluted storyline.

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