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Patriots waive QBs Bailey Zappe, Malik Cunningham, reportedly re-sign both to practice squad

Update: Zappe has cleared waivers re-signed with the Patriots, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, and NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported that Cunningham also cleared waivers and has re-signed as well.

The New England Patriots waived backup quarterback Bailey Zappe and third-stringer Malik Cunningham on Tuesday.

The transactions would leave starting quarterback Mac Jones without a backup for the time being, with no reports of corresponding quarterback moves in New England.

Zappe, 24, made four appearances (including two starts) for the Patriots last season as a rookie after Jones sustained a high ankle sprain. The Patriots won each of his starts against the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns. He completed 70.6% of his passes for 195.3 yards per game with five touchdowns passes and three interceptions in his four appearances.

Cunningham was a four-year starter at Louisville as a dual-threat quarterback looking to make the Patriots roster as an undrafted rookie. It wasn't immediately clear on Tuesday why the Patriots made the moves and what their plan is moving forward at backup quarterback. The reported cuts arrived ahead of Tuesday's NFL deadline for teams to cut their rosters to 53 players.

Bailey Zappe is reportedly no longer a Partriot. (AP Photo/John Amis)
Bailey Zappe is reportedly no longer a Partriot. (AP Photo/John Amis)

Jones, 25, is entering his third season as New England's starter after being selected in the first round of the 2021 draft. After throwing 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as a rookie, he regressed in 2022, completing 65.2% of his passes for 214.1 yards per game with 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 14 starts.

Head coach Bill Belichick declined to commit to Jones as the 2023 starter during the offseason, prompting chatter that Zappe would have the opportunity to compete for the job. Now, Jones is the clear starter, and Zappe's on the market.

The Patriots open their season on Sept. 10 against the reigning NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. They'll presumably plan to fill out their quarterback room in time for that game.