Patriots have bold strategy to address backup QB void

The New England Patriots have no backup quarterbacks on the roster behind Mac Jones. Their strategy to address the void is risky, to say the least.
New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins / Megan Briggs/GettyImages

All 32 NFL teams spent their Tuesdays making some difficult decisions to bring their roster total down to the 53-player limit. As is the case every year, some teams move on from players who have impressive outings in training camp and preseason games. For the New England Patriots, they decided to keep just one quarterback on the roster -- Mac Jones. Backups Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham were both waived by the team by the 53-player roster deadline.

With Jones the lone signal caller on the depth chart, questions were raised about what the Patriots plan to do to address the backup void. As it turns out they do have a plan, albeit a risky one.

According to The Athletic senior NFL insider Dianna Russini and national NFL insider Jeff Howe, the Patriots plan to make Zappe their primary backup as long as he clears waivers. If so, they would add him to their practice squad. If not, the team is "working through a list of who will be available."

Patriots plan to make Bailey Zappe the backup ... if he clears waivers

While this sounds like an interesting and sneaky plan for the Patriots, there is a risk. That being, a team could swoop in and claim Zappe off waivers to add him to their depth chart. NFL Network national insider Ian Rapoport noted during "NFL Total Access" that there's a "real chance" Zappe gets claimed by a team.

Howe mentioned in a separate tweet that the move to cut Zappe and Cunningham had to be made "with so many injuries on the OL/elsewhere as they try to slide players onto short-term IR later this week."

The Patriots drafted Zappe in the fourth round of last year's NFL Draft. The former Western Kentucky signal-caller received playing time rather quickly after Mac Jones suffered an injury in Week 4 against the Green Bay Packers. In that game, Zappe nearly led the Patriots to victory. He would go on to start the team's next two games, leading the team to wins over the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. Following Week 7, Zappe was back on the bench.

In those four appearances, Zappe completed 65-of-92 pass attempts for 781 yards and five touchdowns, while throwing three interceptions.

We will learn by noon ET Wednesday if the Patriots' plan to bring back Zappe worked out, or if the second-year quarterback found a new home.

UPDATE: Zappe is re-signing with the Patriots as part of their practice squad, according to NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero. Zappe received offers from seven other teams but opted to return to the Patriots, per Pelissero.

The Patriots also re-signed Cunningham, who will also join Zappe on the practice squad. The quarterback room will remain the same in New England, despite the scare on Tuesday.

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