Tuesday, April 23, 2024
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Mac Jones trade grades: Patriots unloading former first-rounder for late pick, Jaguars landing QB for cheap

Mac Jones is heading home. A Jacksonville native, Jones will play for his hometown team after the New England Patriots agreed to trade the veteran quarterback to the Jaguars in exchange for a sixth-round pick, according to ESPN and confirmed by CBS Sports lead NFL insider Jonathan Jones

While four teams were reportedly in the running, the Jaguars were the only team that gave the Patriots an offer for the former top-15 draft pick as of Saturday, per Jones. The trade cannot be finalized until the new league year begins Wednesday and Jones passes a physical.

The 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft, Jones was named to the Pro Bowl that season after helping lead the Patriots to their lone playoff appearance in the post-Tom Brady era. Jones and the Patriots regressed the next two years, however, with Jones getting benched during the second half of the 2023 season after going 2-9 as the team’s starter. 

Jones leaves New England with an 18-25 starting record (including the playoffs), 46 touchdowns, 36 picks and a 66.1% completion percentage. He’ll now look to restart his career as Trevor Lawrence’s backup in Jacksonville. 

Here’s our grades from Sunday’s trade. As you’ll read below, there were not real losers in this trade. 

Patriots receive: Sixth-round pick

Based off of Sunday’s reports, the Patriots didn’t have too many options when it came to trading Jones, so a sixth-round pick isn’t too shabby given the circumstance. New England got something in exchange for a player who was on his way out the door. The Patriots got a late-round pick for Jones instead of simply releasing him, which obviously wouldn’t have been ideal. 

Trading Jones further confirms the Patriots’ plans to select a quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick in April’s draft. New England has been linked to LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, CBS Sports’ No. 2 quarterback prospect behind USC’s Caleb Williams. 

Why didn’t the Patriots grade higher? Because, even though Jones ultimately didn’t work out, it’s never a good thing to trade a player who three years ago was the 15th overall pick for a sixth-round pick. The Patriots will now start over with a new quarterback, the second one of the post-Brady era. 

Trade grade: B

Jaguars receive: Mac Jones

If starting quarterback is the NFL’s most important position, backup quarterback might be a close second. Given how many injuries annually occur at that position, it’s critical to have a capable backup. The Jaguars certainly know this after Lawrence girded himself through an injury-plagued second half of the 2023 season. 

By acquiring Jones, the Jaguars have upgraded their backup quarterback position. And they did so without having to give up too much. It helps that Jones is a Jacksonville native who wants to be there. And while he would prefer to be a starter, it appears that Jones will embrace his new role with the Jaguars. He can also aid Lawrence on the sideline and in the quarterback room. 

The Jaguars didn’t ace the trade because they could have tried waiting to see if the Patriots released Jones at some point down the road. But that would have been a risky, given that there were apparently several other teams interested in acquiring Jones. 

Trade grade: A-

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