FOXBORO, Mass. — Bailey Zappe believes he proved during his six-game Patriots audition that he deserves an NFL starting job.

The second-year quarterback, who replaced a struggling Mac Jones as New England’s starter in Week 13, was asked Monday whether he feels like he’s earned the chance to start in 2024.

His response: “Yeah, of course.”

“I have the confidence in myself to know that I think I can go out there and lead a team and win games,” Zappe said. “Of course, I want it to be here. I’ve always dreamt of playing in the NFL, and of course, I want to be a Patriot.

Story continues below advertisement

“So whatever is decided this offseason, I’ll be ready for training camp. I’ll come to compete and do everything I can to help this team win. Hopefully, that’s (as) a starter, and hopefully we can win.”

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

The Patriots scored two primetime road upsets during Zappe’s stint as QB1, beating the Steelers in Pittsburgh and the Denver Broncos at Mile High. Consistency was a persistent issue for the 2022 fourth-round draft pick, who never put together a complete performance and turned the ball over at least once in five of his six starts.

Including his four earlier relief appearances, Zappe finished the season with six touchdown passes and nine interceptions. His 4.0% interception rate across his six starts ranked third-to-last among all QBs with at least 100 pass attempts during that span, trailing only Washington’s Sam Howell and Minnesota’s Nick Mullens.

Story continues below advertisement

That mark ballooned to 8.9% over the final two weeks of the season as Zappe tossed five picks with no touchdown passes in losses to the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. He went 12-for-30 for 88 yards with two INTs and seven sacks in Week 18, enduring the worst performance of his career amid snowy conditions at Gillette Stadium.

Zappe said finding ways to improve his ball security will be his top priority this offseason.

“Of course, eliminating turnovers,” the 24-year-old said. “That’s probably the biggest thing. As you look back through these six games that I started, those are the things that kind of stand out, of course. If you take those away, what happens these last six games? Who knows.

“So those are things that (I want to improve) throughout this offseason. Watching film, getting with the coaches. Kind of get a better understanding of how to eliminate those and do a better job at that, and of course we’ll win a lot of games next season.”

Story continues below advertisement

Interceptions also were a major issue for Jones, whose 3.5% INT rate ranked last among qualified QBs. Both signal-callers dealt with shaky offensive line play and a lack of high-end talent at wide receiver.

Zappe has two years left on a cheap rookie contract, so he’ll likely be back to at least compete for a spot next season. But after finishing tied for last in the NFL in scoring (13.9 points per game) and tied for 30th in interceptions, the Patriots undoubtedly will take steps to upgrade their quarterback room in the coming months.

Those could involve using the No. 3 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft on a top prospect like North Carolina’s Drake Maye or LSU’s Jayden Daniels, or targeting a player like Washington’s Michael Penix, Oregon’s Bo Nix or Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy later in Round 1 or early on Day 2. A trade up for USC’s Caleb Williams could even be in play for New England.

Featured image via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images