After releasing and then re-signing backups Bailey Zappe and Malik Cunningham to the practice squad earlier this week, the New England Patriots appeared to have added their new backup behind Mac Jones, claiming former Panthers QB Matt Corral off waivers.
Corral, 24, was one of the most notable victims of the NFL's deadline for final roster cuts this week. Just a year and a half ago, Carolina traded up to select the Ole Miss product in the third round of the 2022 draft. After an uneven preseason behind No. 1 pick Bryce Young and veteran backup Andy Dalton, Corral could now open 2023 as the Patriots' top backup behind Jones. But it appears he will have to earn that spot. According to NFL Media, Corral and Zappe will compete for the No. 2 job.
New England opened the 2023 offseason all but declaring a starting competition between Zappe and Jones, but the latter took the bulk of first-team reps as the summer wore on. Zappe, a 2022 fourth-rounder, was then released himself as the Patriots trimmed their 90-man offseason roster, only to return to the scout team a day later.
All signs initially pointed to Zappethis year, though he would've needed to be promoted to the active roster to suit up on game day. Corral, meanwhile, will already be on the active roster as a waiver claim, meaning he could open the season as the official No. 2. The latter missed his entire rookie season due to foot injury but has returned to full speed this preseason.
The Patriots begin their regular season Sept. 10 against the reigning NFC champion Eagles.