A season that was expected to return the New England Patriots to Super Bowl contention following the departure of Tom Brady in the 2020 season did not go as planned for Bill Belichick and company. They finished a disappointing 8-9, third place in the suddenly competitive AFC East.
Gone are the days of Tom Brady basically guaranteeing the franchise ten wins a year, and since his departure, they’ve yet to win a playoff game, only appearing in one. Mac Jones was taken with the 15th overall pick in the 2021 draft to be Brady’s successor, and he had a Pro Bowl season as a rookie. But, the regression came hard in 2022.
Jones regressed in every statistical category for the Patriots in 2022, and his touchdown to interception ratio was just 14:11. His passer rating came in under 85, too, and he battled injuries all year, which led to a quarterback battle with Bailey Zappe.
The Patriots’ defense was still strong in 2022, and was the league’s 11th-best scoring defense. But, they struggled down the stretch, giving up 78 points in their last three games to play the team out of playoff contention. The team had not been able to find a successor for former All Pro safety Devin McCourty, who just announced his retirement after thirteen years in New England.
A message from @devinmccourty, on billboards throughout New England. pic.twitter.com/vEwKOl0EXS
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 14, 2023
But, on Tuesday, they re-signed former Heisman candidate Jabrill Peppers for two years in hopes that he could be a suitable replacement long-term.
New England is re-signing S Jabrill Peppers to a two-year deal, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 14, 2023
Peppers spent the first two years of his career with the Cleveland Browns before being sent to the Giants in the Odell Beckham trade. The former five-star recruit had 60 tackles last year for the Patriots, and has 392 in his first four years.
He’s still only 27, and the Patriots are betting on their ability to coach him up to reach his full athletic potential.