Sep 18, 2022; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; A New England Patriots helmet on the sidelines against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the fourth quarter at Acrisure Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots made headlines ahead of the 2023 season when they claimed quarterback Matt Corral off of waivers.

The former Ole Miss signal-caller, however, wasn’t with his new team for its season opener on Sunday after reportedly leaving the team on Friday.

Asked about Corral’s absence at his press conference on Monday, a day after the Patriots’ 25-20 season-opening loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, head coach Bill Belichick told reporters, “He’s on exempt status. I don’t have any comment on it. That’s a personal matter.”

Belichick’s comments come two days after Fox Sports’ Henry McKenna reported that a team source told him that Corral — who has since been placed on the exempt list — had “just left the team.” The source added: “Let’s just make sure he’s OK. I don’t know if it’s mental health. I just know he kind of flaked out. … Let’s be careful this guy doesn’t get thrown to the wolves.”

Speaking to NBC Sports Boston, Sports Illustrated‘s Albert Breer said that a source told him that the Patriots placed Corral on the exempt list rather than releasing him “out of fairness to the kid because he’s been through a lot. It’s been well documented why he fell in the draft in 2022.”

Last year, Corral discussed his battles with depression with Eric Edholm of Yahoo Sports. In high school, he famously got in a fight with Wayne Gretzky’s son, Tristan, at an Oaks Christian basketball game.

Despite being viewed by many as a first-round-caliber talent, Corral was selected by the Carolina Panthers in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft before being released by the team following his rookie season. After placing Corral on the exempt list, New England elevated Bailey Zappe from the practice squad to serve as Mac Jones’ primary backup.

[The New York Post]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.