Patriots reportedly sign Bailey Zappe to 53-man roster, release Matt Corral


With the moves, Zappe will be the Patriots’ primary backup quarterback on Sunday against the Eagles.

Bailey Zappe is back on the Patriots’ roster. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Bailey Zappe has won his old job back.

The Patriots are signing Zappe to the 53-man roster and are releasing backup quarterback Matt Corral ahead of Sunday’s regular-season opener, NFL Network reported Saturday. With the moves, Zappe is the only other quarterback on the Patriots’ 53-man roster outside of Mac Jones, making him the primary backup quarterback.

Saturday’s moves end a weird 10-day stretch in which it wasn’t clear who the Patriots backup quarterback would be entering the 2023 season. The team released Bailey Zappe on cutdown day. They signed Zappe to the practice squad a day later on Aug. 29, a sign that he could eventually return to the Patriots’ 53-man roster.

But that hope for Zappe took a bit of a turn on Aug. 30, when the team claimed Matt Corral off waivers following his release from the Panthers. Corral, a 2022 third-round pick, appeared to have the upper hand in the backup quarterback battle, as some believed he was a better fit for Bill O’Brien’s offense than Zappe.

O’Brien praised both quarterbacks on Tuesday, but recognized the difficulty of bringing him up to speed with the team’s playbook and system, leaving the door open for Zappe to be called up from the practice squad.

The backup quarterback situation remained unclear until Friday. Corral wasn’t present at practice, a sign that his Patriots tenure was over after a week. It was later disclosed that Corral was out due to a non-injury reason.

Bill Belichick appeared to tip his hand on the situation prior to Friday’s practice.

“That’s a decision we’re going to have to finalize here today,” Belichick told reporters when asked about the backup quarterback situation. “I think it’s a consideration. Bailey certainly has the advantage on experience and time in the system and all that, so we’ll see how that all plays out. We have a couple of different options there, so we’ll kind of see how that goes, try to make the best one.”

The Patriots can still add Corral to their practice squad. However, he would have to clear waivers first. If he does, Corral would be able to pick which team’s practice squad he’d like to sign with.

As for Zappe, he reportedly turned down interest from seven other teams to join their practice squad after he went unclaimed on waivers in August. Now, Zappe will return to the 53-man roster and be next in line to take over at quarterback if anything happened to Jones.

Zappe appeared in four games as a rookie last season with the Patriots, winning both games he started.