A plugged-in Patriots reporter earlier in the NFL offseason claimed a Mac Jones trade this spring or summer would happen “over Robert Kraft’s dead body.”
Well, in wake of recent developments, New England’s longtime franchise owner might want to reconsider his reported stance.
Lamar Jackson is available for the Patriots. The superstar quarterback is up for grabs for any NFL team, as the Ravens put him on the block when they gave him the non-exclusive franchise tag. Jackson also revealed he wants a trade out of Baltimore, so it might only be a matter of time before the sides go their separate ways.
There’s also a chance New England is separated from the rest of the pack of Jackson suitors. Although the 26-year-old isn’t in complete control of his next step, he apparently wants to take his talents to Foxboro. At least, that’s what Kraft heard from his close friend and hip-hop star Meek Mill.
Whether the Patriots should trade for Jackson is a separate debate. But if New England wants to make a blockbuster move for the 2019 NFL MVP, Jones should be included in the trade.
Dealing for Jackson wouldn’t be a wait-and-see kind of move. It would be a power play, one where the Patriots — or another interested team — put most of their eggs in Jackson’s basket. It wouldn’t make any sense to hang onto Jones, even though the Alabama product clearly has a fan in Kraft and Bill Belichick saw enough potential to use the 15th overall pick in 2021 on him. Awkward tension potentially could consume the New England locker room, and few things seemingly irk Belichick more than distractions from the ultimate goal.
Patriots viewpoints aside, there’s a chance the Ravens would demand Jones in a potential trade. High-end draft capital probably would be the priority for Baltimore in negotiations, but parting ways with Jackson obviously would leave the organization with work to do behind center. Tyler Huntley, a 2022 Pro Bowler, has upside, but he’ll play on an expiring deal in 2023. Jones is under contract through the 2024 campaign, and the 2025 season could be added if his fifth-year option is picked up.
Jones himself might want out of New England if the Patriots make a serious Jackson pursuit, too. After a promising rookie campaign, Jones endured a highly frustrating sophomore season that featured a minor quarterback controversy at one point. “Zappe Fever” was an epidemic in New England last fall, and the 2022 fourth-round pick appears to have an opportunity to win the starting job this summer.
To be clear, a potential Jackson-to-Foxboro trade doesn’t appear to be likely. Giving up multiple top-tier assets and paying out the nose for a single player would be completely out of character for Belichick. But if the Patriots go against the grain and try to acquire Jackson, they need to rip the band-aid completely off and end the Jones experiment.
New England wouldn’t gain much from Jones holding a clipboard and the young signal-caller probably would want a fresh start if he’s usurped by a legitimate superstar.