New England Patriots Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

At this point in the 2023 season, the New England Patriots appear to be at a clear crossroads when it comes to quarterback Mac Jones.

And one of the best players in the franchise’s history has some thoughts.

Appearing on FanDuel’s Up and Adams on Wednesday, Rob Gronkowski discussed the 2021 first-round pick’s struggles with his former team. And in doing so, the former All-Pro tight end made his case for Jones to ask the Patriots for his release so that he can sign with the Cleveland Browns.

“He’s not respected in New England,” Gronkowski said of Jones. “Coach [Bill] Belichick has played all of these games with him. Bailey Zappe isn’t even close to being on Mac Jones’ level. You should never, ever sit Mac Jones. You tried it once, you tried it twice, it’s not working. Now he’s doing it again. He won’t name a starting quarterback. He’s not respected there.

“I think Mac Jones, should ultimately, even right now, should go ask for his release. If you’re talking to me about what he should do, ask for his release. And then if it’s granted, he should go sign with the Cleveland Browns and start a new career. They need a new quarterback. Imagine that, Kay. How incredible would that be?”

The Browns, of course, are in the market for a new starting quarterback after announcing that Deshaun Watson will miss the remainder of the 2023 season after suffering a fractured right shoulder against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.

Gronkowski’s comments comes just days after Belichick benched Jones for the final drive of the Patriots’ 10-6 loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Germany. With the defeat, New England fell to 2-8 and appears to be well positioned to draft a new quarterback in the first round of next year’s draft.

That would likely mean the end of Jones’ time with the Patriots, as the Alabama product has only seemingly regressed following a Pro Bowl rookie season. But if Gronkowski had his way, the 25-year-old signal-caller won’t have to wait until next spring to find his new home.

[Kay Adams on X]

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.