Bailey Zappe’s 2022 season saw him move up and down the New England Patriots’ quarterback depth chart before eventually ending the year as No. 2 behind Mac Jones.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick not publicly committing to Jones as the starting quarterback earlier this month, however, led to speculation among fans and media members whether or not the door would be open for Zappe to compete for the job. If so, the 23-year-old will do whatever he can to capitalize.
“If my opportunity presents itself, like I’ve been saying, I’m going to take full advantage of it,” Zappe said at a youth football clinic in Rhode Island on Wednesday (via 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Bob Socci).
“I’m going to do everything I can to help the team win. That’s really all I can say from that standpoint. That’s Coach Belichick’s decision, whatever he decides. But if the opportunity presents itself, I’m going to be ready and take advantage of it.”
Zappe joined the Patriots as a fourth-round selection in last year’s draft. Originally serving as the third quarterback on the roster behind Jones and veteran Brian Hoyer, he appeared in his first NFL game in Week 4: with Jones out due to a high ankle sprain and Hoyer suffering an in-game concussion, Zappe was inserted into the lineup against the Green Bay Packers.
That game ended in defeat, but the rookie led New England to back-to-back victories the following two weeks. He cooled off in a Week 7 loss to Chicago — his final game seeing extended action — but his performance as a whole was an encouraging one.
Zappe finished the season completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 781 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions. His showing as a stand-in was one of the few high points in an otherwise disappointing season for the Patriots offense.
Has he done enough to create a quarterback competition in New England, though?
Despite the rumor mill being at work all offseason, particularly in regards to Mac Jones’ future with the Patriots, only time will tell. What can be said with certainty is that he has beaten out one passer already: Brian Hoyer was released earlier this offseason, ending one potential competition before it even began.