The New England Patriots have reportedly released quarterback Bailey Zappe and quarterback/wide receiver Malik Cunnningham, sources with knowledge of the moves told NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero on Tuesday (August 29).
"The #Patriots have waived backup QB Bailey Zappe, source said. A surprise," Rapoport wrote on his X account.
"The #Patriots waived rookie QB/WR Malik Cunningham, per source," Pelissero wrote on his X account.
The two cuts leave former No. 15 overall pick Mac Jones as the only active quarterback on the Patriots' roster with 12 days left until their Week 1 matchup against the Philadelphia Eagles, solidifying the team's support in the former first-round pick, but also leaving depth questions at football's most important position.
Zappe went 2-0 in two starts and appeared in four games as a rookie in 2022, throwing for 781 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions.
The 24-year-old did, however, struggle during his three preseason appearances, which included throwing for 57 yards on 8 of 15 passing, while fumbling three times in the Patriots' preseason finale loss to the Tennessee Titans last Friday (August 25).
"Of course, you can be in a lot better position every time you look at the film and look back at every game," Zappe said while addressing reporters after the game via Yahoo Sports. "There's always going to be things you could have done better and you could have fixed. Today is one of those games for me. We'll get back tomorrow or whenever and learn from those mistakes and move on."
Jones was selected to the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2021, but struggled through an injury-riddled season in 2022, which included being benched for Zappe midway through a blowout Monday Night Football loss to the Chicago Bears in October. The former Alabama standout went 6-8 in 14 starts, throwing for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on 288 of 442 passing.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was reported to have shopped Jones "to multiple teams during the 2023 offseason," a source with knowledge of the situation told ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio in April. The Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Commanders were among the potential suitors, however, a full list of teams was not known, according to Florio.
The report of trade talks came amid reported tension between Jones and Belichick over the coach's refusal to commit to the former first-round pick as the team's starting quarterback in 2023. Patriots owner Robert Kraft appeared to have given Jones, a former first-round pick one week prior to the report.