It wasn’t too long ago where Daniel Jones was considered a disappointment. That was seen on the Gillette Stadium practice fields two years ago during the Patriots’ joint practices with the New York Giants.

During the 18th day of training camp, on Aug. 25, 2021, Mac Jones looked marvelous. The then-rookie quarterback carved up the Giants’ secondary, completing 35 of 40 (88%) passes that day. He was 22 of 26 (85%) in full-team drills.

On the other side, Daniel Jones went 13 of 21 (62%) against the Patriots’ defense in full-team drills. He was intercepted in 7 on 7s and didn’t look like he was on the same level as the Patriots’ rookie – at least not as a pocket passer in training camp. During this practice, members of the Giants media contingent talked out loud about how the team they cover could use a young quarterback like Mac Jones.

In the NFL, life changes quickly.

On Tuesday, Daniel Jones agreed to a four-year, $160 million deal with the Giants. That includes $82 million guaranteed over the first two years. The quarterback once seen as a disappointment now becomes the ninth quarterback to hit the $40 million per year mark in the NFL.

That brings us to Mac Jones.


The advantage the Patriots currently have is that their Jones has two years left on his rookie contract. He has a cap hit of $4.250 million this season and then $4.959 million in 2024. After that, the Patriots have the right to exercise his fifth-year option. The numbers for that, in 2023, ranged from $20.27 million to $34.416 million.

That’s why it’s imperative that the Patriots take advantage of this situation. They have two years to spend money around a quarterback with a low cap hit. The team also has Bailey Zappe on a rookie contract through 2025.

However, by the time 2025 comes, the Patriots will likely have to spend big money on their quarterback position. Look around the NFL – Derek Carr signed a four-year, $150 million contract with New Orleans and Geno Smith signed a three-year, $103 million extension with Seattle. Add in Daniel Jones’ contact and it’s clear that if you’re a top-15 quarterback in the NFL, you’re probably going to earn over $30 million a season.

For the Patriots, that time’s going to come whether Jones is their quarterback of the future or not. In 2021, as a rookie, Jones threw for 3,801 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as the Patriots won 10 games.

This past year, Daniel Jones threw 3,205 yards with 15 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also ran for seven touchdowns (22 total) as the Giants won nine games. That earned him $40 million per season.

Carr earned that contract with the Saints after passing for 3,522 yards with 24 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. Smith looked like a career backup before finishing with 4,282 yards, 30 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.


For a quarterback, it takes one solid year to show they’re a top-15 or borderline top-10 player at their position to cash in. With the Patriots, Jones showed he was nearly there in 2021 under the coaching of Josh McDaniels. It’s not crazy to suggest that under Bill O’Brien, Jones will be back to that level this season and next. In the event he achieves the same level of success – Pro Bowl alternate and Top 100 player on the NFL Network’s list – he’ll also end up cashing in.

Until that happens, the Patriots need to spend, spend and spend some more.

According to, the Patriots enter this offseason with the seventh-most cap space available.

The team should look to add a capable starting right tackle. They should look to find a Pro Bowl-caliber receiver. They should look to add more talent on defense.

After all, the time to build up your roster is now with two quarterbacks on rookie contracts.

The other alternative is to dive into the veteran quarterback sweepstakes and sign or trade for someone like Lamar Jackson or Jimmy Garoppolo for the tune of $30-to-$50 million per season.


That might be the case, if neither Jones nor Zappe develop.

In the event that Jones isn’t the Patriots’ franchise quarterback, the Patriots have a few options. They could sign a free agent for massive money. The team could trade for a veteran and most likely pay him a massive amount of money.

The Patriots could also go back into the draft and start this process all over again.

The easiest path to relevancy in the NFL is to have a good quarterback. The Patriots are already working toward helping Jones out by bringing in O’Brien and hiring a new offensive line coach, Adrian Klemm. The next steps should include them spending money on their roster before they inevitably have to spend $30-$40 million per season on a quarterback.

Maybe it’ll be on a veteran. Maybe that player is already on their roster. They have a couple years to figure it out. After all, it was just a few years ago when Mac Jones looked clearly better than Daniel Jones on that Patriots practice field.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.