New England Patriots

New England Patriots

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - AUGUST 10: Quarterback Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots reacts with Malik Cunningham walking down the tunnel after the preseason game against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium on August 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots made a couple of roster moves on Tuesday, and the most curious one came at the quarterback position.

As first reported by Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, the Patriots are waiving rookie quarterback/wide receiver Malik Cunningham. According to Mike Reiss, they are also releasing veteran defensive end Trey Flowers. Cunningham is an interesting one, because he was just active in Las Vegas against the Raiders, when he played six offensive snaps without making a pass attempt.

Multiple reports indicate that Cunningham could very well return to the Patriots via the practice squad. That’s what happened after final roster cuts in September. But even if Cunningham ends up back on the p-squad, it’s still a relatively surprising move and the latest in what’s become a veritable saga among the Patriots’ backup quarterbacks behind Mac Jones.

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 15: Malik Cunningham #16 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 15: Malik Cunningham #16 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to a game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

That’s because Cunningham was the Patriots’ backup quarterback just nine days ago in Vegas. On top of that, Ian Rapoport previously reported that the Patriots had signed Cunningham to a three-year deal as part of his promotion from the practice squad to the main roster.

Apparently, Cunningham’s status on the Patriots’ quarterback depth chart has taken a dip in recent days. Even if Cunningham ends up re-signing with New England, the move could have implications for the Patriots’ other quarterbacks on the roster, which you can read about below…

  • What It Means For Bailey Zappe

    Aug 25, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien talks with quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Aug 25, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien talks with quarterback Bailey Zappe (4) during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

    Zappe has yo-yo’d up and down the depth chart for the Patriots throughout the 2023 season. But most recently, he was active and the direct backup to Jones in last Sunday’s win over the Bills.

    In Week 6 against the Raiders, Zappe was inactive and listed as the Pats’ emergency third quarterback. So, his rise to active status against Buffalo, and Cunningham’s move to waivers, would logically mean Zappe is trending upward, if only slightly.

    Still, the Patriots’ quarterback moves have been so wildly unpredictable, that nobody, including Zappe, is totally safe right now.

  • What It Means For Will Grier

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 24: Will Grier #19 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to a game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 24: Will Grier #19 of the New England Patriots warms up prior to a game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

    Grier has yet to be active for a game in New England and has only been ruled the emergency option. But he’s now been with the Patriots for over four weeks, providing some seemingly needed stability on what’s been an erratic QB depth chart.

    The former Carolina Panthers quarterback originally signed to the Patriots’ 53-man roster from the Cincinnati Bengals practice squad. But his situation will be worth monitoring as long as he’s here, especially since the Patriots haven’t shown a ton of confidence in Zappe or Cunningham as Jones’ backup.

  • What It Means For Mac Jones

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 22: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots calls for a two point attempt after throwing a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – OCTOBER 22: Mac Jones #10 of the New England Patriots calls for a two point attempt after throwing a touchdown in the fourth quarter of the game against the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

    Nothing. Jones is entrenched as the Patriots’ starting quarterback, even after an awful slump and a three-game losing streak. He rebounded with a game-winning drive and a signature win over the Bills, but he’ll need to prove he can repeat that success.

    Either way, the Patriots’ multitude of moves on the QB depth chart reflect that nobody else on the roster is a legitimate threat to Jones’ job right now.

  • Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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