Former third-round draft pick Matt Corral appeared to have a clear path to a backup quarterback job after landing with the New England Patriots on waivers. Nine days later, his future in football is unclear.
The Patriots placed Corral on the exempt/left squad list on Saturday, hours after they were reported to be releasing him. Per the Boston Herald's Doug Kyed, the Patriots made the move after Corral left without notice.
The Athletic's Jeff Howe later reported Corral hadn't been at Gillette Stadium the past two days for practice, walkthrough or meetings.
The Patriots claimed Corral off waivers on Aug. 31 after surprisingly cutting then-backup quarterback Bailey Zappe and third-stringer Malik Cunningham, leaving starter Mac Jones as the only passer left on the roster. Corral himself had been cut by the Carolina Panthers, who have top overall draft pick Bryce Young as their new starter this season.
Corral, the 94th overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft out of Ole Miss, did not appear in a game in his rookie year last season, but the Patriots appeared set to use him as their No. 2 behind Jones.
That wasn't the end of the intrigue under center, though, as Zappe — taken one round after Corral in 2022 — cleared waivers then re-signed with the Patriots on their practice squad. He was elevated to the 53-man roster on Saturday, per NFL Network's Tom Pelissero, the same day Corral left the team.
That essentially brought the Patriots back to the original depth chart that stood before things were shaken up in August.
Patriots rolling with Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, again
Zappe played in four games last season, garnering excitement from fans after replacing an injured Jones and winning his two starts. He passed for 781 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions in his four appearances.
Jones, 25, was selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. He is entering his third season as the starter in New England. He threw for 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as a rookie, but his 2022 campaign was a bit of a different story. He completed 65.2% of his passes for 214.1 yards per game with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 starts.
The Patriots are set to host the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles for their season opener Sunday. While head coach Bill Belichick declined to commit to Jones as the 2023 starter during the offseason, the job appears to be his.