FOXBORO, Mass. — Mac Jones just wants a chance to compete. He wants to prove he still can be the promising, potential-laden quarterback he was as a Patriots rookie in 2021.

And he’s well aware that he might need to leave New England to find that opportunity.

Speaking with reporters Monday during the Patriots’ postseason locker cleanout, Jones was asked whether he’d welcome a change after back-to-back disappointing seasons with the club that drafted him.

“I feel like I have a lot of room to grow, and there’s a lot of things I can do better,” Jones said in his first public comments since his Week 13 benching. “I know that, and I’ve worked hard. I’m always going to put my best foot forward and compete. I know that. That’s all I’ve ever done is compete, everywhere I’ve been. I really love this place and have a lot of respect for this place, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Story continues below advertisement

No Matchup Found

Click here to enter a different Sportradar ID.

Asked specifically whether he hopes to stay with the Patriots or join a new team this offseason, the 25-year-old replied: “We’ll see.”

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

“I’m going to compete regardless,” Jones said. “I’m really happy to be in the NFL and be a quarterback in the NFL. Obviously, this year didn’t go great, and I’m going to do everything I can and have done to get back on the right track.”

Jones lost his starting job to Bailey Zappe in late November but continued to dedicate himself behind the scenes. He said his work in the weight room allowed him to put on seven to eight pounds of muscle over the final few weeks of the season, which he viewed as a positive in an otherwise forgettable year.

Story continues below advertisement

The former Alabama star also noted that he came out of the season healthy, which could have played into the team’s decision to demote him to third string for Sunday’s Week 18 loss to the New York Jets. Had Jones relieved Zappe in that game and then suffered an injury, it might have complicated a potential offseason trade.

It’s unlikely any team will view Jones as a top-choice starter after what he put on film in 2023, albeit behind an injury-ravaged offensive line and with subpar talent at wide receiver. But he was a first-round draft pick just three years ago, has one year left on an affordable rookie contract and surely would have a market if the Patriots look to move him.

New England also could keep Jones as a bridge starter while also drafting a new QB, but it’s difficult to envision both Jones and head coach Bill Belichick returning next season.

“What I’m looking for is the next opportunity,” said Jones, who did not play in the Patriots’ final six games. “I know it’s going to come, but at the end of the day, as a quarterback and a competitor, you’ve got to be ready, right? So I’m going to be ready.”

Story continues below advertisement

Jones said he has “a lot of respect” for Patriots owner Robert Kraft and is “really just grateful for the opportunity” to play for New England. He acknowledged he “let people down” with his play this season but is eager to redeem himself.

“At the end of the day, a lot of that’s out of my control,” Jones said. “But I hope they realize that I’m going to compete, and I’m going to do that wherever I’m at, on any NFL team, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”

Featured image via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports Images