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Is This Recent Patriots’ Signing Just A Depth Piece Or Something More?

Updated: Jun 28, 2023

The Patriots are having a busy offseason, even if it doesn’t have the panache that fans are looking for. In their latest move – interestingly, a week or so after rumors of the Patriots potentially shopping Mac Jones surfaced – the Patriots signed a quarterback, Trace McSorley, from Arizona in a signing that adds to the depth of their QB room. Can Trace make this summer even more interesting than it’s already going to be?

Breaking Down McSorley

The Positives

At Penn State, McSorley was an extremely impressive quarterback. He didn’t have the explosiveness of others in his class, but in exchange, he was extremely reliable. He had a relaxed stance in the pocket, a quick release, and great field vision. He made high-percentage plays and was very accurate in short/medium-length situations. His conservative and calculated style actually fits a Belichick-ian Patriots system quite nicely.

His dual-threat nature adds to his potency as a QB. He read the field nicely, choosing the right time to take off, and complemented this with enough speed and toughness to gain significant ground. This allowed him to run a fair bit of read-option, making his game difficult for defenses to read. At Penn State, he rushed for almost 1200 yards in his final two seasons and added 23 TDs (for a total of 69 TDs).

His big-moment experience also serves him well. He spent significant amounts of his last three years ranked in the top 15, and a good portion of that time ranked in the top five. He played in a number of big games and turned in excellent performances in New Year’s Six bowl games and other top-10 showdowns with playoff implications, so he has a penchant for the clutch moments.

The Negatives

As much as McSorley thrived in short/medium-length situations, he struggled with anything beyond that and didn’t typically attempt downfield throws unless in desperate situations. He did, when he upped his level of aggression, have a turnover issue.

These weaknesses didn’t hurt him too much in college, but in the NFL, they’ve significantly exacerbated. While he has had a lot of experience as a number two option, and some starting experience, he has had just over 50% completion, with one TD and five interceptions, and last year, had a QB rating of just over 10. Simply put, forced to apply aggression and faced with stronger defenses, he has struggled mightily. He’s still young, and maybe with the Patriots, he can find some more rhythm and consistency, but so far, his NFL play has left a lot to be desired.

What Does This Mean For The Patriots?

The timing is a bit conspicuous. Different rumors have been spreading around the Patriots’ QB situation, from Mac being shopped to his job not being guaranteed this offseason, and now the Patriots add another name to the mix, and that too, one with experience starting games in the NFL.

This could go one of two ways. The Patriots’ theory that pushing Mac with Zappe will ultimately be good for Jones and the franchise will prove to be true, and adding McSorley will be good for not just Mac, but Zappe as well. Depending on how well he takes to the system, it’s possible that Zappe’s role as backup isn’t fully guaranteed with McSorley there, but ultimately, it does still seem like Trace is the least NFL-ready of the Patriots’ QBs.

However, with the number of jabs that Mac’s confidence has taken since the start of last season, this could also have a disruptive effect on Mac and the locker room. The addition of the third QB could add more tension to an already tense situation and could stunt Mac’s readiness to take over the offense. Most likely, this will be somewhere in the middle, where McSorley can use his unique style of play and experience to teach Mac a thing or two, but ultimately, after a spirited summer with both of his co-quarterbacks, Jones will take the top spot, and McSorley won’t be much of a factor.

The Bottom Line

This ultimately will just end up serving as a depth signing, an ultimately positive one, that adds another arm and perspective to an important training camp for Mac and the offense. If fans think that Trace will compete with Mac for the job, they are McSorley mistaken.


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