What do the Patriots really have in Malik Cunningham?

Well, they probably still don’t even know. But one NFL scout apparently has seen enough to say New England should keep Cunningham as its backup quarterback over Bailey Zappe.

Boston Sports Journal’s Mike Giardi recently spoke to a trio of scouts about Cunningham, who stood out during the Patriots’ preseason loss to the Houston Texans last Thursday and saw QB reps in two ensuing practices. And while two scouts threw cold water on the hype surrounding the undrafted Louisville product, who primarily has played receiver since landing in New England, the other offered an entertainingly aggressive take.

Here’s the full excerpt from Giardi’s column, which was published Tuesday:

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“On Malik Cunningham, the text I got was from a grizzled, veteran scout who deals a lot with the AFC East. It read, ‘Settle down, Boston.’ I laughed. He did later text, writing ‘He has live legs. No question. But let’s see the arm.’ Another scout I reached out to on Cunningham said, ‘He needs to develop as a passer. That’s one of the reasons (size being another) why he wasn’t drafted,’ but he did add, ‘I’d trust the Bills (Belichick and O’Brien) to give him a package that he could make work.’ Another texted, simply, ‘Why the hell not? I’d rather him as the backup than the little guy’ (he was referencing Bailey Zappe).”

At this point, the most likely scenario — by a long shot — is the Patriots opening the 2023 season with Mac Jones as their top quarterback and Zappe as the backup.

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But will they keep a third quarterback? And if they do, would they choose Cunningham over Trace McSorley? What about trying to sneak Cunningham onto the practice squad and continue to develop him as a receiver or quarterback?

Regardless of how his situation plays out, Cunningham likely will be a top storyline for the rest of the Patriots preseason.

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Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images