FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots waived backup quarterbacks Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham on Tuesday in moves that solidify Mac Jones‘ standing as the team’s starter and create a notable void behind Jones on the depth chart.
Jones is currently the only quarterback on the team’s roster.
Zappe started two games in place of an injured Jones last season and became a fan favorite in New England after helping the team to two victories, with fans chanting “Zappe! Zappe! Zappe!” at times in hopes of seeing more of him.
In fill-in duty last season, he completed 65 of 92 passes for 781 yards, with five touchdowns and three interceptions.
Zappe entered the 2023 season as Jones’ top backup — with since-released Trace McSorley and undrafted free agent Cunningham third and fourth on the depth chart — although some believed he might be in position to challenge for Jones’ job.
It never materialized, however, as the 2022 fourth-round pick out of Western Kentucky played in three preseason games and was 30-of-51 for 247 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. He was also sacked six times.
If Zappe and Cunningham clear waivers, they could return to the Patriots’ practice squad.
Longtime captain Matthew Slater, the team’s longest tenured player, was among those not expecting Zappe to be waived.
“Certainly something that is, I guess, surprising for a lot of us, but that’s just the nature of the business,” he said. “I love Bailey. He knows how I feel about him. He’s one of my favorite kids of all time.”