Pаtrіotѕ Mаke Tellіng Quаrterbасk Deсіѕіon: Reрort

While the New England Patriots found a versatile playmaker in undrafted free agent Malik Cunningham, the rookie quarterback stayed put.

Doug Kyed of A to Z Sports reported that Cunningham only played quarterback in the Patriots rookie minicamp last weekend according to a source. That came after speculation of Cunningham trying another position for the Patriots to maximize his athleticism.

Cunningham “told teams during the pre-draft process that he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get on the field and help a team win,” according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. If makes the cut at quarterback, he would likely be the fourth either on the 53-man roster or the signal caller on the practice squad. He likely wouldn’t contribute on the field in that case.

New England head coach Bill Belichick already has Mac Jones, Bailey Zappe, and Trace McSorley on the roster with Jones and Zappes as the frontrunners for the starting job. The Patriots notably didn’t have any other quarterback besides Cunningham at the rookie minicamp.

One NFC executive told Pelissero that Cunningham makes sense as a receiver. Cunningham ran a 4.53-second time in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. Cunningham previously had interest as a safety from Alabama before he committed to Louisville.

“So, while the first practices of his career came at quarterback, it is still possible he could switch positions or be used in certain formations near the goal line or on read-option plays in new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien’s offense,” Kyed wrote.

A star at Louisville in the footsteps of former MVP Lamar Jackson, Cunningham shined at times as a passer and rusher. Cunningham amassed 9,660 yards passing and 70 touchdowns plus another 3,179 yards rushing and 50 touchdowns in his career.

He went undrafted despite his promising talent because of his size at 6-feet, 190 pounds. Scouts and teams also weren’t blown away by his arm talent according to Patriots.com’s Evan Lazar.

“Cunningham doesn’t have an [Josh] Allen or [Patrick] Mahomes-like arm cannon to make magic happen out-of-structure and off-platform. If that’s what you’re hoping for, he is not that,” Lazar wrote.

Patriots Invested in Malik Cunningham

New England made an investment in Cunningham with $200,000 guaranteed and a $30,000 signing bonus — the highest ever by the Patriots for an undrafted free agent according to Kyed. That eclipses what Cunningham might have made if he got drafted in a late round.

“If that sounds like a lot for an undrafted rookie, it’s because it is,” Kyed wrote. “It’s the third-highest signing bonus and 14th-highest total guarantee handed out to an undrafted free agent this offseason.”

Cunningham “was one of the most sought-after free agents following the draft” according to ESPN’s Mike Reiss.

Malik Cunningham Could Keep Patriots’ Streak Going

If Cunningham makes good on the Patriots’ investment, it will mark the 20th-consecutive year that an undrafted free agent makes the 53-man roster to start the season. One of them, former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler, made one of the biggest plays in franchise history. Butler intercepted a pass in the 2015 Super Bowl to seal the game for the Patriots, 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

Other notable recent undrafted free agents to crack the Patriots’ opening day roster include wide receiver Jakobi Meyers and cornerback J.C. Jackson. Both of the aforementioned players left New England to sign sizable deals with other teams.

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