Thursday, June 13, 2024

Patriots 2024 player profile: Bailey Zappe’s future in question in New England

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There were many reasons the New England Patriots finished with a 4-13 record last season. Poor quarterback play was one of the biggest.

To avoid a similar problem this in 2024, New England overhauled their QB this offseason. That was headline day drafting North Carolina’s Drake Maye with the No. 3 overall pick, while the team also signed veteran Jacoby Brissett in free agency and traded Mac Jones.

Still in the room from last season is Bailey Zappe, who started the final six games for New England last year. But with the new room put together, they likely were his last with the Patriots.

Hard facts

Name: Bailey Zappe

Position: QB

Opening day age: 25

Size: 6’1”, 215 lbs

Jersey number: 4

Contract status: Signed through 2025 (2026 UFA)

Experience

Beginning his collegiate career at Houston Baptist, Zappe transferred to Western Kentucky for his final year of college ball. It came with great success, as Zappe set FBS records by tossing 5,977 passing yards and 62 touchdowns.

Declaring for the draft, Zappe was selected in the fourth-round (137th overall) by New England. He opened the year as the third-string quarterback, but injuries to Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer unexpectedly thrusted him into action during a Week 4 game in Green Bay. The rookie played admirably in relief — tossing his first career touchdown — but New England ultimately came up short.

Receiving his first career start the following week, New England shifted their offense to a more under-center play-action approach. Zappe tossed one more touchdown in a 29-0 blowout victory and impressed again the following week as he threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-15 over the Browns.

With Jones then healthy enough to start the following week, Zappe reverted back to the bench. But, a Jones interception when New England was trailing 10-0 led to a mid-game (that Bill Belichick explained as pre-planned) switch at QB. Zappe entered and immediately led back-to-back touchdown drives, but struggled the rest of the game as the Patriots lost 33-14.

Zappe did not see any action the rest of his rookie season as Jones started the last 10 games of the regular season.

2023 review

Stats: 10 games (6 starts) | 413 offensive snaps (70 %) | 127-of-212 (59.9%), 1,272 passing yards, 6 touchdowns, 9 interceptions, 10 big time throws, 10 turnover worthy plays | 17 rushing attempts, 83 rushing yards, 1 touchdown

Season recap: Zappe’s sophomore season got off to a rough start as accuracy struggles throughout training camp led to him being a surprise cut as roster’s trimmed down to 53 players. Despite offers elsewhere, he returned to New England’s practice squad as the primary backup quarterback and shortly rejoined the active roster.

Maintaining his backup role, Zappe saw clean-up duties in blowout losses in Weeks 3 and 4 — where his accuracy issues continued in limited circumstances. As starting quarterback Mac Jones and the Patriots offense continued to struggle, Zappe was thrusted into an odd situation in a potential game-winning drive in Germany after a poor interception from Jones. Coming into the game in the final minutes, Zappe threw an interception of his own to end the game.

The following week, Jones retained his starting duties but a pair of poor interceptions led to Zappe operating under center during the second half. He held the starting quarterback duties from that point out with mixed results following.

After a shutout home loss in his first full week as a starter, Zappe answered with a three touchdown performance just days later in a Thursday night victory. Two weeks later, Zappe tossed two more touchdowns and orchestrated a drive to set up a game-winning field goal on Christmas Eve.

New England then went on to drop their final two games — with Zappe tossing five interceptions and no touchdowns — as the QB finsihed the season 2-4 as the starter.

Patriots preview

What will be his role? New England completely remodeled their quarterback room this offseason as they traded Mac Jones, signed Jacoby Brissett, and drafted Drake Maye and Joe Milton. With Maye as the future of the organization, Brissett as the veteran who can start if needed, and Milton as the project, Zappe seems to be the odd man out.

What is his growth potential? Getting a chance to be a full-time starter down the stretch last season, Zappe showed his ability to extend plays with his legs and generate explosives down the field. But, turnover and accuracy issues led to an offense that was not consistent enough. Zappe has proven he can be a backup QB that can win a game or two when needed, but his limited physical tools likely won’t lead to a much higher ceiling.

Does he have positional versatility? N/A

What is his salary cap situation? After being waived at the end of training camp last season, Zappe is under contract through the 2025 season with cap hits around $1 million. He has no guaranteed money remaining on his deal.

How safe is his roster spot? As mentioned above, it’s tough to find a spot on for Zappe with the fellow quarterback’s rostered. With Jerod Mayo noting that the QB room should be pared down by training camp, Zappe’s spot is in serious question.

One-sentence projection: After a quarterback room remodel, Zappe does not have a long-term future with the Patriots organization.

What do you think about Bailey Zappe heading into the 2024 season? Will he become a valuable contributor in New England as well? Or will he be little more than a role player? Please head down to the comment section to discuss.

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