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In Another Shocking Move, the Patriots Decide NOT to Go With One QB on the Roster, and Re-Sign the Two They Released Yesterday

Icon Sportswire. Getty Images.

What a strange 24 hours it's been. Practically unthinkable when it comes to any other NFL franchise cutting down from its preseason roster to its 53-man, but just another rotation of the Earth in New England. In rapid succession we went from letting go of last season's fan and media darling and reputed Second Coming of 2001's Messiah getting shown out by security:

… to speculation that Messiah himself might come back (which I was kidding about, just to be clear; I'm here just to present the topless supermodel part of the story):

… to the much more tenable, logical situation that is a three-quarterback depth chart:

So all this was just roster maneuvering. Bill Belichick juggling chainsaws, confident he wasn't going to slip up and lose hand. Name another GM in the league - make that, in all of pro sports, who would even attempt this. To gamble the bottom 67% of his quarterback depth chart on the hope that none of the other 31 teams would take a flyer on either of these guys. Bailey Zappe, who currently sports a 2-0-0 record as a starter and a 100.5 passer rating after taking the world by storm last year. And Malik Cunningham, who planted his flag in the preseason during the Houston game when he threw for 19 yards (with a perfect TD pass dropped), rushed for 34 yards, and broke at least that many ankles:

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But GM Bill read the marketplace and liked his odds of getting both guys back. He left a "FREE QB" sign on these two young, promising players and gambled no one would stop the car. And the gamble paid off. 

I'll say again I don't consider either Zappe or Cunningham to be anything more than potentially quality NFL quarterbacks. And I'll repeat what I've said all along, that Patriots fans got way out over their skis anointing Zappe to be the new Chosen One. But he's already demonstrated that he can be an emergency fill-in, given you limit the game plan for him. So you hang onto him and hope he can become a Matt Cassel. Just one you don't ever need to break the glass on and use. And the conspiracy theorist in me wants to believe he didn't play well in the preseason on purpose, just so the team could get him through waivers.

As for Cunningham, right now he looks to me like a guy you can get the ball to in space and let him make positive plays, in the mold of a Cordarelle Patterson. The kind of guy you feed with screens, Jet sweeps, those behind-the-LOS shovel passes that are essentially handoffs but count as completions. And give him time to see if he can be a depth QB for you over time. 

Now, they're back to fill exactly those roles, while Mac Jones leads the team back to respectability. All because they have a mastermind in charge who knows how to win a high-stakes game of 53-Man Hold 'Em. 

That said, let's not rule out Brady coming back just yet.