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Former Alabama quarterback Mac Jones slipped well outside the first 10 picks in the 2021 NFL draft and fell into the lap of Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots.

The Patriots are still recovering from losing Tom Brady to free agency prior to the 2020 NFL season. Their quick fix was to sign Cam Newton to a one-year deal, which came and went. They decided to sign the former NFL MVP to another one-year contract through the 2021 season.

It’s the league’s expectation that this will be Newton’s final year in a Patriots uniform, and their first-round pick will take over the franchise’s quarterbacking duties.

While the above statement could prove true, there is a really, really big ‘what if.’

What if Newton’s final season in a Patriots uniform was on the sidelines?

Another expectation heading into 2021 was Jones would not see the field all too much.

Well, with the way he’s been performing during offseason training, there’s a chance he not only earns some playing time as a rookie, but is handed the Week 1 starting job.

ESPN’s Mike Reiss writes, “When it came to quarterback Mac Jones on Thursday, it wasn’t as obvious as those examples, and perhaps that’s because a razor-sharp football mind is hard to sum up in one snapshot.

“That was one of my biggest takeaways from watching practice: Jones is putting himself in position to possibly compete for the starting job come training camp in July because he’s keeping up with the challenging mental aspect of the Patriots’ playbook.

“This is uncommon for rookie Patriots quarterbacks who are adjusting to the volume of information, and also the fast pace in which coaches teach it. It’s a lot to process, and that doesn’t even factor in how a simple shift by the defense can require a reaction from the quarterback that changes everything in an instant.”

What makes this whole saga even more interesting: if Jones wins the starting job for the team’s Week 1 matchup at home against the Miami Dolphins, it would be Tua Tagovailoa vs. his former backup, Mac Jones.