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Patriots OC: 'Everything is on the table' at QB amid draft, Mac Jones rumors

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New England Patriots offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt isn't ruling out Mac Jones potentially returning as the team's starting quarterback in 2024 despite his disappointing 2023 campaign.

"Right now, everything is on the table," Van Pelt said Wednesday.

"We're still working through that process. When that time comes, I'm sure it'll be a collaborative effort, and we'll make the right decisions," he added, noting that he's met with Jones since being named the Patriots' new offensive coordinator on Feb. 1.

Jones posted a strong 2021 season as a first-round rookie but hasn't replicated that success. The 25-year-old finished 2023 with just 2,120 yards and 10 touchdowns against 12 interceptions across 11 starts. New England benched him on multiple occasions for Bailey Zappe.

Jones is considered a trade candidate this offseason as New England kicks off a new era led by first-year head coach Jerod Mayo. The Patriots, who went 4-13 in 2023, own the third overall pick in this year's draft and could select a QB in April.

"There's some good pieces in place," Van Pelt said of his new squad. "The best thing for everybody is it's going to be a fresh start for everybody. I've talked to a couple of guys already to come in with a clean slate. No preconceived expectations or notions of who these guys are, and then we'll build from the ground up."

Regardless of who's under center for the Patriots, Van Pelt said he knows what he wants from his next quarterback.

"Smart, tough, and a leader," Van Pelt answered when asked about a signal-caller's most important traits. "Obviously there's accuracy in the pass game, mobility, and decision making, there's a lot that goes into it. ... The great players (are) often the best leaders and the most competitive guys."

A former NFL quarterback, Van Pelt will call plays for the Patriots' offense in 2024. First-year coordinator DeMarcus Covington will be responsible for the team's defensive play-calling.

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