Mac Jones' future in New England came into question this week, after a report indicated head coach and general manager Bill Belichick has been shopping Jones in trade talks this offseason.
The development begs the question of which teams the Patriots might broker a prospective deal with, and who or what New England would seek in return for Jones.
For ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio -- who first reported that the Pats had been interested in dealing Jones -- the San Francisco 49ers stand out as a logical trade partner.
In fact, Florio has even floated a one-for-one blockbuster trade of 2021 first-round quarterbacks, with Jones going to the Niners in exchange for former No. 3 overall pick Trey Lance.
As Florio notes, things have not yet worked out in San Francisco for Lance, and a "change of scenery" could be beneficial.
The former North Dakota State star served as backup to Jimmy Garoppolo in his rookie year, then missed most of last season after suffering a broken ankle in Week 2. In the meantime, Lance's path to the starting job has been muddied by the emergence of Brock Purdy, though Purdy's status for the start of the season is now in question after undergoing Tommy John surgery following the 49ers' loss to the Eagles in the NFC title game.
Lance, a former North Dakota State star, turned heads earlier this offseason when he seemed to express interest in the Tennessee Titans following their hiring of former 49ers executive Ran Carthon as general manager. More recently, 49ers GM John Lynch declined to rule out the possibility of trading Lance, though he did offer Lance a vote of confidence.
A Lance-for-Jones swap would mark something of a mulligan for the 49ers, who, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan, had "really wanted" both Lance and Jones leading up to the draft in '21. That year, San Francisco surrendered considerable draft capital -- three first-round picks and a third -- in order to move up and position itself to draft Garoppolo's heir apparent.
Whether Lance would make sense for the Patriots is another matter. Presumably, New England would move off Jones with the idea of handing over the reins to 2022 fourth-rounder Bailey Zappe, who impressed as a rookie while subbing for an injured Jones. So, it's not clear whether, or how, Lance would be a fit for the Patriots.
Jones, a Pro Bowler in his rookie year, seems to have fallen out of favor with Belichick, reportedly for voicing his frustrations with the team's offensive direction last season.