While New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones trade fodder boiled of late, the Patriots will not trade Jones according to Tom Curran of NBC Sports.
“After speaking to people today, I’ve said previously that over Robert Kraft’s dead body, would Mac Jones be traded. We could probably also include Bill Belichick,” Curran said on NBC Sports Boston on Thursday, April 27. “I was told today that Bill Belichick does not want to trade Mac Jones.”
“Robert Kraft, we already know it does not want to trade Mac Jones,” Curran added. “The Patriots will not be trading Mac Jones in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Mac Jones will be here, and the Patriots will not draft a quarterback.”
Jones became the subject of trade rumors this offseason after a subpar 2022 season. A Reddit rumor surfaced on Wednesday, April 26, about the Patriots trading Jones with the Houston Texans for the No. 2 pick. Boston’s 98.5 The Sports Hub examined that trade rumor amid other Beantown outlets speculating on a potential Jones trade.
One Patriots Staff Member Wanted QB Hendon Hooker
Patriots insider Henry McKenna of FOX Sports reported earlier on Thursday that Tennessee quarterback prospect Hendon Hooker “is a favorite of at least one [Patriots] staffer”.
“If New England were to target a quarterback in this class, it might look at Hendon Hooker,” McKenna wrote. “He doesn’t make sense for the team where it’s currently picking in the first round.”
McKenna acknowledged that the Patriots showed interest in Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, who recently visited the team. However, Levis “didn’t wow team executives to a level where they are prepared to select him at No. 14 overall” according to McKenna.
McKenna emphasized that the Patriots should wait until after the first round to go after Hooker if he is available but not to draft the former Tennessee star at No. 14. Hooker’s draft stock moved up this offseason amid his ACL tear recovery after a Heisman Trophy candidate season with the Volunteers in 2022.
McKenna suggests that the Patriots will likely take a different Tennessee star, offensive tackle Darnell Wright, or Penn State cornerback Joey Porter Jr. with the No. 14 pick on Thursday.
Hendon Hooker Could Makes Sense for Patriots
McKenna sees selecting Hooker later as a good decision for the Patriots with Jones and Bailey Zappe at quarterback primarily for 2023.
“The reason why Hooker appeals more than Levis — from my perspective — is obvious,” McKenna wrote. “First of all, New England could possibly land Hooker at No. 46 overall. You never know with quarterbacks — Malik Willis slid to No. 86 last year, after all.”
“If the Patriots spent a Day 2 pick on Hooker, they could give Jones more time to prove himself in 2023, given that Hooker is going to spend the bulk of the season recovering from his ACL injury,” McKenna added. “If Jones excels next season, the team will have every reason to keep Hooker on the bench to learn behind Jones. It’s possible that Hooker would benefit from a year on the bench anyway, given that Tennessee’s offense is unique and fairly simple for a quarterback.”
Hooker showed prowess before the injury with the Vols amid 3,135 yards passing for 27 touchdowns versus two interceptions plus 431 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 2022. Hooker recently went viral for his videos of dropping back for passes, just months after the ACL tear in November 2022.
Hendon Hooker Gives Patriots Options With Mac Jones
McKenna sees drafting Hooker as a golden opportunity for the Patriots and for Jones in different ways.
“Would Jones like it? No, of course not,” McKenna wrote about the Patriots picking Hooker. “But — thinking like [Bill] Belichick here — Jones doesn’t really have any power to do anything about it.”
“He needs to play well to gain leverage, and Jones is fresh off a brutal season,” McKenna added. “So New England can put him into a tough position to see if he’ll sink or swim.”
“If he’s sensational under new OC [Bill] O’Brien, the Patriots would have the tough decision of which QB to trade: Jones or Hooker,” McKenna continued. “But if Jones flops, then at least the team has a plan in place to get another young quarterback developed in time to potentially replace him.”