Jacksonville Jaguars pull off unexpected trade ahead of free agency

• The Jaguars are trading for a backup QB ahead of free agency

Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany;  New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play at
Nov 12, 2023; Frankfurt, Germany; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) calls a play at / Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Jacksonville Jaguars were expected to be busy in free agency but you'll be hard-pressed to find someone who thought they were going to trade for a backup quarterback. But that's what they did, and it wasn't just any quarterback. They just acquired Mac Jones, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft.

Adam Schefter reported Jacksonville is sending a sixth-round selection to the New England Patriots in exchange for Jones. The Jags already had C.J. Beathard under contract but they could've used an upgrade at quarterback. Jones certainly fits the bill. A Day 1 starter, he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie and seemed on his way up before Matt Patricia was installed as the offensive coordinator.

Things took an ugly turn with Patricia at the helm, and Jones' performance suffered because of it. By Year 3, chatter about him not being the long-term answer in New England had surfaced. Following what was an underwhelming season, a trade was seen as the best outcome for both the Alabama product and the Patriots: He could get a fresh start and they could begin their rebuild after the Bill Belichick era.

Having finalized a trade, the Patriots can look for their quarterback of the future and Jones can resurrect his career. The past three years, the Jacksonville native started 42 games and completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 8,918 yards with 46 touchdowns and 36 interceptions. That kind of production makes him a fringe starter or a high-end backup.

The trade benefits both the Jaguars and Mac Jones

The trade for Mac Jones caught everyone off guard. The Jaguars weren't in need of a backup for Trevor Lawrence. They had signed C.J. Beathard to a two-year deal last offseason but maybe they thought they needed an upgrade. Surprisingly, the Jacksonville Jaguars were the only team that had made a serious offer for the Jones, via Jonathan Jones of CBS Sports.

This goes on to show that Jones' stock has plummeted, and no longer was seen as a starting quarterback. Even worse, clubs didn't think he was worth a seventh-round selection. That's a heck of a fall from grace, but the trade to Jacksonville could've been the best that happened to him.

In Jacksonville, he'll get to sit behind fellow 2021 draftee Trevor Lawrence, work on his confidence, and hone his mechanics. the Jaguars, for their part, have a dependable backup that can step in if Trevor Lawrence gets hurt * knocks on wood *. Maybe one of the reasons they pressed him into action despite dealing with a myriad of injuries in the second half was that they weren't confident Beathard could help them win.

Make no mistake, there won't be a quarterback controversy. Trevor Lawrence is the Jaguars quarterback, and Jones will serve as a backup. He's set to hit the open market next year, so he can offer depth at a reasonable $4.9 million salary.

The bottom line is that as unexpected as this trade was, it does make the Jacksonville Jaguars better, at their quarterback room. And isn't that the point of every move a team makes?

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