Patriots Sign Athletic Rookie QB Moments After NFL Draft Ends

New England has its fourth quarterback


Apr 29, 2023

The Patriots wound up not selecting a quarterback in the 2023 NFL Draft, but they reportedly added one shortly after it ended.

New England signed undrafted Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham, according to a Saturday evening report from NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero. For now, Cunningham will slot in as the Patriots’ fourth QB behind Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe and the recently signed Trace McSorley.

Listed at 6 feet and 192 pounds, Cunningham is an athletic signal-caller who was recruited to Alabama as a safety. He went on to spend five seasons at Louisville, with four as the Cardinals’ top starter. Cunningham led the program in rushing yards three times, including in 2021 when he led all FBS quarterbacks with 1,031 rushing yards. Last season, the 24-year-old completed 62.4% of his passes for 1,568 yards and eight touchdowns to go along with five interceptions, 560 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.

Here’s what The Athletic’s Dane Brugler wrote about Cunningham, who was his 15th-ranked QB:

“Micale ‘Malik’ Cunningham grew up playing sports in the heart of Alabama and attended Park Crossing High School. He finished his prep career with 8,470 all-purpose yards and earned All-State as a senior (49 touchdowns). A four-star ‘athlete’ recruit, Cunningham was offered by Alabama as a safety, but he wanted to play quarterback and was drawn to Louisville because of Lamar Jackson. He finished his Cardinals career with 120 total touchdowns, one more than Jackson for the top spot in the school record books. Cunningham scans the field quickly and generally makes sound decisions to deliver strikes. His strengths as a player are his shifty footwork and improvisational skills to escape pressure and extend plays. Overall, Cunningham is an instinctive athlete with natural run skill, but he is undersized and his inconsistent throwing mechanics affect his accuracy. An NFL team would be wise to figure out how to utilize his playmaking talent.”

Cunningham probably has a slim chance of earning a spot on the Patriots roster. But you never know what can happen in training camp, including the possibility of Cunningham eventually landing on the practice squad to help offer athleticism as a scout-team QB.

Thumbnail photo via Vasha Hunt/USA TODAY Sports Images
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