Without realizing it, former Patriots cornerback Ty Law might’ve spelled out the team’s immediate future and aspirations during his weekly WEEI appearance on Tuesday.
When asked on “The Greg Hill Show” whether Bill Belichick and the Patriots would consider trading for mercurial-but-still-good Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers or simply sticking with soon-to-be-third-year signal-caller Mac Jones, the Pats legend put his support behind the incumbent.
“I think [Belichick’s] comfortable with Mac Jones. He’s got to get some pieces around him,” Law said. “I think…he is not going to lose the game for you. He might not always win the game, but he’s not going to lose the game if you give him some pieces.”
On the flip side, Law called Rodgers a “total different level” of quarterback and one of the greatest passers of all time — two things Jones is obviously not.
However, the Hall-of-Famer said the business aspect of the Rodgers conversation (or that involving any high-priced veteran quarterback) is a limiting factor in their probability of landing in New England.
Rodgers, for example, isn’t going to come cheap if he is traded this off-season, whether he remains on his current deal or gets a new one. As it stands, he’s currently due to make about $60 million in guaranteed money for 2023 alone, though an acquiring team might restructure that money or give him a new deal entirely.
That's not even factoring in the draft capital it would take to get the 39-year-old Rodgers, either, which would likely take New England out of the first round for the next 2-3 years.
“When have you ever seen Belichick or the Patriots organization go out and get a free agent and go out on a limb like that? They didn’t do that with Tom Brady when he was here, so they damn sure aren’t going to give it to Aaron Rodgers.”
That’s about as succinct a reason as you need to put the kibosh on that idea. Belichick saw with his own eyes what Brady was for 20 years — no less than the greatest quarterback of all time — and allowed Brady to leave town after a down 2019 instead of paying him to retire in Foxborough. It’s hard to think he’d dedicate a major portion of the team’s salary cap to any quarterback to retroactively rectify that mistake, especially if it hamstrings the rest of the operation.
That’s where Jones (and the Patriots’ philosophy at quarterback) comes back into play.
As much as fans badly want Belichick to pursue an elite quarterback that can go toe-to-toe with the Mahomes-Allen-Burrow tier of players, the plain fact appears to be that he doesn’t seem to want one at the price it would take to acquire one (whether trading up in the draft for one or paying big money).
Sure, Belichick’s happy to appreciate them from afar and show them love when he sees them on the field. But he seems perfectly content to just win with complementary football, clock control and minimizing risk over scoring teams into submission and relying on the overwhelming talents of one position — no matter how important that position is.
In short: perhaps he doesn’t care that Jones is not elite and might never be, not matter how much that fact frustrates others who see what top-tier quarterbacks can do to elevate a team year in and year out. Jones is one thing most of the other quarterbacks they could acquire this off-season aren’t: cheap.
If all Belichick wants to do is re-capture the magic of 2001, where his defense locked up opponents and threw away the keys while his quarterback managed games and made plays at the right time, there’s always that possibility Jones has that in him and that Bill O’Brien might help bring those qualities out.
That’s their hope anyway. The rest of us would prefer the type of guy who can turn Marquez Valdes-Scantling into a meaningful player, and I’m not even talking about Rodgers.