Patriots claim former Panthers QB Matt Corral

ByMike Reiss ESPN logo
Friday, September 1, 2023

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- In a move that adds to an unexpected week of quarterback transactions for the New England Patriots, the team claimed former Carolina Panthers signal-caller Matt Corral on waivers Thursday as a No. 2 option on the depth chart behind starter Mac Jones.

The Patriots had an open spot on their 53-man roster after officially placing wide receiver Tyquan Thornton on injured reserve.

Corral felt Tuesday that he had made Carolina's 53-man roster, saying he couldn't wait to get in the quarterback room with Bryce Young, the top pick of the 2023 NFL draft, and veteran Andy Dalton. But the 2022 third-round pick out of Ole Miss was released Wednesday.

The Patriots had played an instrumental role in Corral being drafted by the Panthers, trading their 2022 third-round pick to Carolina so it could pick him 94th overall. As part of the trade compensation, the Patriots received a 2022 fourth-round pick that they used to select quarterback Bailey Zappe.

On Tuesday, the Patriots had waived Zappe, who was slated to be the No. 2 option behind Jones. Then they re-signed Zappe and undrafted quarterback Malik Cunningham to the practice squad on Wednesday.

So now the team has four quarterbacks -- two on the active roster with Jones and Corral (assuming Corral passes his physical) -- and two on the practice squad with Zappe and Cunningham.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound Corral spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve after sustaining a Lisfranc ligament tear in a preseason game against the Patriots. He finished 9-of-15 for 58 yards in the game, with former Panthers coach Matt Rhule saying he saw "really nice signs" from his performance.

Panthers general manager Scott Fitterer told reporters that the club would bring him back on the practice squad if he cleared waivers.

"It was a tough decision. I like Matt as a person. Anytime you have a guy that you take and bring in, and you're developing and you see progress, it's tough. But you're just trying to keep your best 53," he said.

Fitterer noted that a new coaching staff this season, under Frank Reich, altered what the Panthers considered when determining which players were the best fit.Corral played 94 offensive snaps in three preseason games this year and was 28-of-47 passing for 249 yards with no touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked five times and totaled 47 yards rushing on four carries.

As for New England, there was a 24-hour stretch earlier in the week when Jones, the 2021 first-round pick from Alabama, was the lone quarterback on the team.

Coach Bill Belichick's willingness to expose Zappe to waivers indicated that the coaching staff viewed a significant gap between Jones and Zappe on the depth chart.

Now they'll take a closer look to see if Corral is an upgrade in the backup role.

Also, former Minnesota Vikings receiver Jalen Reagor, who cleared waivers Thursday, is signing with the Patriots' practice squad, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter.

Reagor was drafted 21st overall in 2020 by the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the Patriots play in Week 1, and could be a candidate to be promoted for that game.

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