How Might Patriots’ Schedule Factor Into Drake Maye Debut?

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The NFL did not make it any easier to predict.

The New England Patriots have the latest possible bye week, confirmed when their 2024 schedule was announced Wednesday night. New England will not have its bye until Week 14.

Given the fact the Patriots have rookie quarterback Drake Maye developing behind center, it was one of the biggest questions ahead of the release. It was thought if the Patriots received a bye week in mid-October or early November, that timeline could coincide with Maye’s debut. It would allow the No. 3 pick to sit for some six, seven or eight games and then have two weeks to prepare for one opponent.

The Patriots, however, did not receive that advantage. If they want to thrust Maye into the starting lineup before mid-December, they will have to do so with one week of preparation.

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There are a few spots which could make sense for Maye. The one that stands out, again, is Week 15 against the Arizona Cardinals after a Week 14 bye. It would provide Maye with four regular-season games, the final two set for Gillette Stadium.

If New England didn’t want to wait until the bye, though, perhaps Week 10 against Caleb Williams and the Chicago Bears could be an option? It would make for a notable storyline given Williams was selected ahead of Maye with the No. 1 overall pick in 2024. It also would provide nine weeks to learn and four weeks to showcased what he’s learned before a bye-week reset.

New England opens with gauntlet of a schedule as three of its first four are on the road. They travel to the New York Jets on a short week in Week 3, travel to the defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers in Week 4 and return home to face the Miami Dolphins in Week 5. Those all feel like tough spots to insert the 21-year-old.

With that, maybe Week 6 against the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium in mid-October proves the earliest? It represents the Patriots second consecutive home game. However, since New England then travels to London for a Week 7 clash against the Jacksonville Jaguars perhaps Week 8 would be better? The Patriots will host the Jets in that Oct. 27 contest. It likely would mean Maye gets 10 regular-season games his rookie year.

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Patriots first-year head coach Jerod Mayo has stressed the team will not throw Maye into the mix until he’s ready. Mayo’s comments about confidence in veteran Jacoby Brissett, as well as his sentiments about Maye’s areas for improvement, are a way to publicly confirm the mindset.

That’s easy to stand behind now, though. We’ll see what happens if the Patriots lose four of their first five and fans begin to clamor for the rookie.

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