After Mac Jones put together a Pro Bowl rookie season, most probably envisioned the 2021 first-rounder as the Patriots’ starting quarterback for years to come.

But as it turns out, Jones might not even finish out his first NFL contract in New England.

The Alabama product endured a steep decline in the 2022 campaign and effectively hit rock bottom this season. Jones experienced a series of in-game benchings, lost his starting job before Week 13 and rounded out the campaign as a healthy scratch. As the 25-year-old watched the final month of the season from the bench, it became clear that his days in Foxboro, Mass., might be numbered.

NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo maintained that expectation in a column published Sunday.

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“Even though Bill Belichick is gone, former first-round pick Mac Jones — who lost the starting role and ended up third string by the end of the 2023 season — is a trade candidate in the coming weeks and most likely will end up elsewhere for the 2024 season,” the trio wrote.

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Jones reportedly has taken on a “realistic” outlook on the future of his playing career after back-to-back horrendous seasons. The signal-caller seemingly realizes a starting job could be tough to come by not just in 2024, but also years down the line.

At this point, Jones probably should covet a backup role outside of New England. The Patriots and the third-year pro clearly had a toxic relationship the last two seasons and a breakup might be in the best interest of both sides.

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Featured image via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images