What the Patriots plan to do with Will Grier in his first game with the team


The quarterback officially joined the Patriots on Friday and will serve a role in Sunday’s game against the Jets.

Will Grier spent the 2021 and 2022 seasons with the Cowboys, but never played a game for them. Sam Hodde / AP

Will Grier’s signing with the Patriots became official on Friday morning, and Bill Belichick even shared what role the quarterback will play in Sunday’s game against the New York Jets.

Grier will serve as the Patriots’ emergency third quarterback, marking the first time the Patriots will exercise that option since the rule was implemented over the offseason. So, Grier would play against the Jets if starter Mac Jones and backup Bailey Zappe get hurt or ejected from Sunday’s game even though he won’t be on the active gameday roster.

The Patriots’ decision to sign Grier raised some eyebrows when the deal was first reported on Thursday. Grier was on the Bengals’ practice squad and might have had a possible chance to start for Cincinnati in Week 3 due to Joe Burrow’s injury status. Zappe was also the Patriots’ only other quarterback on the 53-man roster, outside of Jones, following the team’s decision to re-sign him and move on from Matt Corral earlier in September.

Belichick simply explained that the signing was a depth move.

“We want to work with him,” Belichick told reporters on Friday. “We need depth at that position – two quarterbacks, long year.”

Grier, 28, is in his fifth NFL season. The Panthers selected the West Virginia product in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft and 33 picks before the Patriots selected quarterback Jarrett Stidham.

Belichick really didn’t say if the team had much interest in Grier during the draft that year when asked about the team’s workouts with him.

“We tried out all of these guys,” Belichick said.

Grier started two regular-season games in his rookie season with the Panthers, throwing for 228 yards, zero touchdowns, and four interceptions over those games. He hasn’t played in a regular-season game since then, remaining with the Panthers for the 2020 season before joining the Cowboys as their third-string quarterback over the last two seasons.

Grier was informed he was being released by Dallas on cutdown day ahead of its final preseason game in August, but received the opportunity to play in that game. He threw for 305 yards and had two passing touchdowns plus two rushing scores.

In a corresponding move, the Patriots placed Marcus Jones on injured reserve, ruling him out for the next four games as he reportedly is dealing with a torn labrum.

Belichick didn’t specify how long Jones would be out for, saying he’d “be out for a while.”

“It’s unfortunate,” Belichick said of Jones’s injury. “He obviously had a good rookie year, explosive player.”

With Jones joining fellow corner Jack Jones on injured reserve, the Patriots signed veteran corner Breon Borders and undrafted rookie corner Azizi Heard to the practice squad on Thursday.

When asked how he felt about the Patriots’ depth at corner, Belichick gave a very on-brand answer.

“Well, that’s the depth we have.”