When the Patriots released Brian Hoyer in early March, the move largely was viewed as an endorsement of backup quarterback Bailey Zappe. The services of Hoyer, who suffered a concussion last October and spent the bulk of the season on injured reserve, no longer were needed.
But there might’ve been something far more interesting going on, and it relates to Mac Jones.
Back in January, Chris Simms of ProFootballTalk reported that Jones angered Bill Belichick by seeking outside counsel amid the obvious dysfunction created by New England’s offensive coaching staff. For some, Belichick’s noncommital remarks about Jones in the months since further indicate he grew upset with the young quarterback’s on- and off-field behavior in 2022.
NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran confirmed that report last week during an appearance on WEEI’s “Jones & Mego with Arcand” show.
“Bill caught wind of it, and he’s still pissed about it,” Curran said before being asked whether he found out whom Jones was seeking help from. ” … I did not. Could it have been (former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve) Sarkisian? Could it have been folks at Alabama?”
Curran then suggested that Hoyer might’ve been involved. He cited inside knowledge, the Patriots’ reluctance to activate the 37-year-old despite him being medically cleared to play, and the fact that Hoyer will carry a $1.64 million dead salary cap hit ($1.4 million base salary) in 2023.
That last point is an especially noteworthy one, as New England rostered Hoyer the past two seasons, even after cutting him at the end of training camp, both for his knowledge of the system and his ability to be a competent backup quarterback. But something clearly changed, with the Patriots paying Hoyer to leave rather than to stick around at least as a de facto quarterbacks coach during the summer.
“Look, Brian Hoyer’s not here anymore,” Curran said. “And Brian Hoyer was guaranteed 1.4 of his two-million-dollar contract. Patriots released him, made it clear that, ‘We’re moving on because of your head.’ He had been cleared (to play) for a long time. He anticipated coming back.
“Brian Hoyer was not sold on what was going on last year. And … I think he let that be known that Mac was up against it on a weekly basis. And I think that’s a large portion of why Hoyer’s not here. The Patriots would tell you otherwise, but they’re paying him 1.4 million dollars to not play here and not be part of the system. Even through training camp and release him in August, when you could use him for this offseason. ‘Nope, thanks, we’re all set with you.’ I think it’s interesting.”
It’s important to note that Curran appeared to be blending sourced reporting with some personal speculation.
Comfortable with Zappe as their top backup, the Patriots ultimately might’ve cut Hoyer to give him an opportunity to find new work in the NFL. New England, which typically keeps a third QB either on its active roster or its practice squad, also could look to add a developmental quarterback during the late rounds of the 2023 NFL Draft.
Nevertheless, this new information indicates a far more dramatic explanation.