Patriots UDFA Signing: Malik Cunningham, QB (?), Louisville

bsj

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I just wanted to break this out separately as I am intrigued by the possibilities here.

Could he be the guy that allows the scout team to better prepare for the mobile QBs that are becoming predominant? Could he be transitioned to a WR or slash type role (as he has indicated he is open to)?

Could he be something else?

Either way, the Patriots, who refused to engage on Lamar Jackson given his cost, just signed the guy that broke all his records at Louisville. And they paid $200K which is not chump change for an UDFA.

I am excited about the possibilities.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ubnjC6cpTI
 

Jinhocho

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Isnt 216k the amount players are making on the PS squad this year? I read something that we should get used to seeing that number.
 

Cellar-Door

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$216k is indeed what a full season on the practice squad would earn you.
Sometimes teams offer UDFA the full amount guaranteed. Incentive to sign knowing they're planning to at worst hold you on the PS all season if they can
 

Eddie Jurak

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It was late in preseason game 1, with all of the caveats that entails, but Malik Cunningham did a nice job when given some snaps at QB.

Is he in the running for a roster spot? Maybe with the line so bad, he has some value as a change of pace type of guy.

BB has often gone with just 2 QBs, so it is clear he values rostering players who can contribute on the field in some way over a third QB. But maybe that is part of what looking at Cunningham at WR and ST is all about.
 

BigSoxFan

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It was late in preseason game 1, with all of the caveats that entails, but Malik Cunningham did a nice job when given some snaps at QB.

Is he in the running for a roster spot? Maybe with the line so bad, he has some value as a change of pace type of guy.

BB has often gone with just 2 QBs, so it is clear he values rostering players who can contribute on the field in some way over a third QB. But maybe that is part of what looking at Cunningham at WR and ST is all about.
He’s clearly a talent. Jury is still out on whether or not he can fit in the NFL but I’m intrigued enough to keep trying to find out. Ideally, he’d be a guy I try to get onto the PS. But his speed and elusiveness are NFL calibre.
 

lexrageorge

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FWIW, the NFL did bring back a modified version of the old emergency 3rd QB rule. Teams that have 2 QB's on their 46-man game day roster can activate their 3rd QB in a game in the event of injury. The 3rd QB still has to occupy a slot on the active 53-man roster.

There could be some other positional roster crunches, so being able to get Cunningham on the practice squad to start the season would be ideal.
 

Pablo's TB Lover

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All reports were that WR and special teams will be how he makes the roster and mostly where he has lined up, with Cunningham's QB abilities as a nice resource to have in an emergency. So I'm curious if his PT at QB last night is indicative of his lack of progression at WR, the coaches not wanting to deploy him in game action this early in his learning of the WR position, just a change of pace due to the O Line's shitty performance...?
 

DJnVa

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All reports were that WR and special teams will be how he makes the roster and mostly where he has lined up, with Cunningham's QB abilities as a nice resource to have in an emergency. So I'm curious if his PT at QB last night is indicative of his lack of progression at WR, the coaches not wanting to deploy him in game action this early in his learning of the WR position, just a change of pace due to the O Line's shitty performance...?
I think it's simply what BB said--guys who didn't practice a lot got some run last night. Hence JJ Taylor and Tre Nixon playing more than expected.

Let's see how joint practices go.
 

BigJay

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FWIW, the NFL did bring back a modified version of the old emergency 3rd QB rule. Teams that have 2 QB's on their 46-man game day roster can activate their 3rd QB in a game in the event of injury. The 3rd QB still has to occupy a slot on the active 53-man roster.
How exactly do they enforce that though? By a snap count or something? The Pats (or any team) can/could just list someone as a WR, and just run a wildcat with them at qb. Seems like an easy thing to exploit.
 

Patsfan1983

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How exactly do they enforce that though? By a snap count or something? The Pats (or any team) can/could just list someone as a WR, and just run a wildcat with them at qb. Seems like an easy thing to exploit.
if you play the emergency QB, the other two QB are then inactive for the rest of the game
 

BigJay

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if you play the emergency QB, the other two QB are then inactive for the rest of the game
But he wouldn't be listed as an emergency qb, he'd be listed as a wr, so it would be a wr taking the snap. Just like now if a wr takes a snap at qb, the other qbs can still play.
 

E5 Yaz

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Wouldn't it just make more sense to list him as a third QB on the game-day roster, then use him in other positions if you want? Or am I overthinking this?
 

Zedia

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Either he’s the 3rd QB and can only play if other two QBs are hurt or he’s a WR on the active list. He can’t be both.

From the NFL's bylaw for all the technical terminology:

One hour and 30 minutes prior to kickoff, each club is required to establish its Active List for the game by notifying the Referee of the players on its Inactive List for that game.
Each club may also designate one emergency third quarterback from its 53- player Active/Inactive List (i.e., elevated players are not eligible for designation) who will be eligible to be activated during the game, if the club’s first two quarterbacks on its game day Active List are not able to participate in the game due to injury or disqualification (activation cannot be a result of a head coach’s in-game decision to remove a player from the game due to performance or conduct). If either of the injured quarterbacks is cleared by the medical staff to return to play, the emergency third quarterback must be removed from the game and is not permitted to continue to play quarterback or any other position, but is eligible to return to the game to play quarterback if another emergency third quarterback situation arises.
A club is not eligible to use these procedures if it carries three quarterbacks on its game day Active List [47- or 48-players in 2023]. …
Effect: Permits each club to designate an emergency quarterback who can be activated from its Inactive List if the two quarterbacks on the club’s Active List are injured or disqualified and unable to participate in the game.
https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nfl/news/nfl-emergency-qb-rule-3rd-quarterback-2023/pcbxurweiswxq4o1ns2ubbqh
 

BigJay

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Either he’s the 3rd QB and can only play if other two QBs are hurt or he’s a WR on the active list. He can’t be both.
So, just list as a WR and if they want him at QB they just run a wildcat or gadget play. Or just list him as the 2nd QB and have him run routes from time to time. Isn't this what the Saints have been doing with Hill the past few years?
 

Zedia

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So, just list as a WR and if they want him at QB they just run a wildcat or gadget play. Or just list him as the 2nd QB and have him run routes from time to time. Isn't this what the Saints have been doing with Hill the past few years?
Sure, they can do anything they want if he‘s one of the 45 active players. The 3rd QB doesn’t matter other than someone else will have to be 3rd QB (You need to have 2 listed in order to get the 3rd).

Cunningham might benefit from this rule in that perhaps it’s now more likely they carry 3 QBs instead of 2.
 

Harry Hooper

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If only the rule would allow you to have Cunningham listed as the #2 QB but playing elsewhere (WR, special teams, and a few gadget plays at QB), but in the event Mac Jones gets hurt, you activate the #3 QB (BZ).
 

mcpickl

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If only the rule would allow you to have Cunningham listed as the #2 QB but playing elsewhere (WR, special teams, and a few gadget plays at QB), but in the event Mac Jones gets hurt, you activate the #3 QB (BZ).
They couldn't just activate Zappe if only Mac got hurt, but I don't think there is anything in the rule preventing them from making Cunningham the #2 QB, playing him wherever they want, and making Zappe the #3 emergency QB to be activated if both Mac and Cunningham got hurt.

As long as they would be comfortable with Cunningham playing QB if Mac got hurt, it probably makes a lot of sense for them to go that way if they want to use Cunningham in different spots.
 
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They couldn't just activate Zappe if only Mac got hurt, but I don't think there is anything in the rule preventing them from making Cunningham the #2 QB, playing him wherever they want, and making Zappe the #3 emergency QB to be activated if both Mac and Cunningham got hurt.

As long as they would be comfortable with Cunningham playing QB if Mac got hurt, it probably makes a lot of sense for them to go that way if they want to use Cunningham in different spots.
If I understand it correctly there is. The rule states "if the club’s first two quarterbacks on its game day Active List are not able to participate in the game due to injury or disqualification" which makes me think the only way Zappe could be the QB is if both QB1 (Mac) & QB2 (Cunningham) are out of the game.

I think the way to go is to just list him as a WR and let him play wherever, the rule isn't intended to stop anyone from playing QB it is a way for teams to ensure they have a QB should 1 & 2 go down). Zappe could be listed as QB2 but Cunningham could infact be the defacto QB2.

EDIT: Sorry just re-read your post and I though you said something you didn't... my point still stands but I think we are in agreement.
 

Bowser

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Not sure if this article has been floated in these forums, but what the hell. The author, Daniel Kelly, is a former scout on Parcells' Jets' staff and had Cunningham as a first round pick back in early April. The money quote: "[Cunningham's] the most dynamic runner in this draft. Not just at quarterback, I mean in this entire draft class."

And he can throw it 35 yards on a line off his back foot.

 

CaptainLaddie

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I went back and rewatched every snap Cunningham had in that game. I am by no means a tape guru or expert, but he absolutely seems like an NFL player. He's got a real arm, he played at a real school, and he's quick as fuck.

I'll be bummed if BB doesn't find a way to get him involved, and if I'm being honest (because I was dying for the Pats to take Lamar Jackson and was so pissed off when the Ravens took Jackson right after the Pats took Sony) I want the Pats to go to a running QB sooner than later since that's where the league is headed judging by who all of the top QBs are.
 

Salva135

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I went back and rewatched every snap Cunningham had in that game. I am by no means a tape guru or expert, but he absolutely seems like an NFL player. He's got a real arm, he played at a real school, and he's quick as fuck.

I'll be bummed if BB doesn't find a way to get him involved, and if I'm being honest (because I was dying for the Pats to take Lamar Jackson and was so pissed off when the Ravens took Jackson right after the Pats took Sony) I want the Pats to go to a running QB sooner than later since that's where the league is headed judging by who all of the top QBs are.
Part of the Malik aura is the "we have Lamar Jackson at home" mom joke. But on the flip side are the radio "I've seen this Michael Bishop movie before" takes.
 

Eddie Jurak

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They couldn't just activate Zappe if only Mac got hurt, but I don't think there is anything in the rule preventing them from making Cunningham the #2 QB, playing him wherever they want, and making Zappe the #3 emergency QB to be activated if both Mac and Cunningham got hurt.

As long as they would be comfortable with Cunningham playing QB if Mac got hurt, it probably makes a lot of sense for them to go that way if they want to use Cunningham in different spots.
The way the rule is written I don't think this makes a whole lot of sense - it really does seem like an emergencies only rule. And I doubt BB is ready to trust Cunninham to be the real #2 QB over Zappe at this point.

If Cunningham makes the 53 but not the gameday roster, he can be designated the third QB and provide that insurance. Otherwise, this won't have much significance for the Pats.
 

lexrageorge

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The way the rule is written I don't think this makes a whole lot of sense - it really does seem like an emergencies only rule. And I doubt BB is ready to trust Cunninham to be the real #2 QB over Zappe at this point.

If Cunningham makes the 53 but not the gameday roster, he can be designated the third QB and provide that insurance. Otherwise, this won't have much significance for the Pats.
I think what mcpickl was saying is that the Pats could activate both Mac and Cunningham, and designate Zappe as the emergency QB. And then for that game use Cunningham as backup QB, change-of-pace QB, or depth WR.

But that scenario would be unlikely at this point. Zappe is clearly the #2 as of now.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I think what mcpickl was saying is that the Pats could activate both Mac and Cunningham, and designate Zappe as the emergency QB. And then for that game use Cunningham as backup QB, change-of-pace QB, or depth WR.

But that scenario would be unlikely at this point. Zappe is clearly the #2 as of now.
Yes, they could. But to me this just falls in the long list of things the Pats "could" do but never will, like switching to a wishbone offense or converting Rhamondre Stevenson to a LB.

Short of Cunningham outright winning the #2 job (and he is nowhere near there), or a before-the-game injury to Mac or Zappe, I don't see any chance the Pats choose to make Cunningham the #2 under the current rules.

Right now, if Mac gets hurt in a game they are going to want to play Zappe - making him the #3 blocks that. The emergency #3 also would get forced out of the game if one of the 2 ahead of him was able to return.

I think the rule is written stupidly, because the NFL is stupid about how it does these things, but the goal is pretty clearly just to give teams a way to get an actual QB on the field in injury situations, not to create something teams can game to their advantage.
 

ekim colorwaterpit

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I feel like another thing about Malik, and this is going off memory so happy to be proven wrong, but the Pats have struggled with mobile QBs in the past. Having him to help gameplan against more mobile QBs could be a huge benefit
 

Harry Hooper

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I feel like another thing about Malik, and this is going off memory so happy to be proven wrong, but the Pats have struggled with mobile QBs in the past. Having him to help gameplan against more mobile QBs could be a huge benefit
I think the struggles have more to do with poor team speed on defense rather than how the team prepared for games, but maybe it could help some.
 

brendan f

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He has a ways to go but I would not rule out him supplanting Zappe as the number two guy. Zappe's upside is limited to becoming Brian Hoyer and it's unlikely he ends up being that good. A smart team is going to find a way to get Cunningham involved in their offense. It could be as a back-up or as a situational player but it should absolutely be as a QB. The RPO threat alone is worth it. What's interesting is if you compare his stats to Lamar Jackson they're remarkably similar. Cunningham was actually the better passer (better completion %, better touchdown/interception, better AY/A) whereas Jackson was the better runner.

So while there is some reason for skepticism with him, it's not like his numbers are flukey. The better question is in a league that is trending to more RPO, why did he go undrafted?
 
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DJnVa

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4th quarter of the 1st game of the preseason against guys that will be working as insurance agents in a month and we're talking about him as #2 QB?

He's fun to watch, but we gotta see a little more.
 

RedOctober3829

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4th quarter of the 1st game of the preseason against guys that will be working as insurance agents in a month and we're talking about him as #2 QB?

He's fun to watch, but we gotta see a little more.
I think it would make sense with the new rules that Cunningham would be the #2 QB and Zappe the emergency #3 QB. That way, they can take advantage of Cunningham's skillset on a game to game basis and if Mac goes down with an injury then Zappe can enter the game to run the regular offense.
 

Zedia

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I think it would make sense with the new rules that Cunningham would be the #2 QB and Zappe the emergency #3 QB. That way, they can take advantage of Cunningham's skillset on a game to game basis and if Mac goes down with an injury then Zappe can enter the game to run the regular offense.
You almost got me!
 

mcpickl

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I think what mcpickl was saying is that the Pats could activate both Mac and Cunningham, and designate Zappe as the emergency QB. And then for that game use Cunningham as backup QB, change-of-pace QB, or depth WR.

But that scenario would be unlikely at this point. Zappe is clearly the #2 as of now.
This is correct.

I’m saying if, that’s a giant IF, the patriots got to the point where they felt Cunningham could help their team on the field as a non QB, it would probably make sense to use him as your second QB and make Zappe your inactive emergency QB. They also have to be sure Mac is the guy, and wouldn’t pull him from a guy due to

Odds are much higher that a guy you can move around to different spots can help you win a game than a backup that can only play QB ever will.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I think it would make sense with the new rules that Cunningham would be the #2 QB and Zappe the emergency #3 QB. That way, they can take advantage of Cunningham's skillset on a game to game basis and if Mac goes down with an injury then Zappe can enter the game to run the regular offense.
Except that is not the rule. the QB3 can only play if QB1 and QB2 are ruled out due to injuries - and of one of them comes back, QB3 must immediately leave the game.
 

cshea

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It was late in preseason game 1, with all of the caveats that entails, but Malik Cunningham did a nice job when given some snaps at QB.

Is he in the running for a roster spot? Maybe with the line so bad, he has some value as a change of pace type of guy.

BB has often gone with just 2 QBs, so it is clear he values rostering players who can contribute on the field in some way over a third QB. But maybe that is part of what looking at Cunningham at WR and ST is all about.
I believe they've kept 3 QB's every year since 2018.

2019: Brady, Hoyer, Stidham
2020: Newton, Hoyer, Stidham
2021: Mac, Hoyer, Stidham
2022: Mac, Hoyer, Zappe

I don't think it's out of the question that they keep 3 this year and Malik's potential and value elsewhere is much higher than Trace McSorely, IMO.

I do agree that there's no roster manipulation to be had with the 3rd QB designation. If Cunningham makes the team he'll either be on the 53 and inactive on gameday as the emergency QB or he'll make the gameday 46 and contribute wherever Bill sees fit and can also be an emergency QB without the official designation.
 

RedOctober3829

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Except that is not the rule. the QB3 can only play if QB1 and QB2 are ruled out due to injuries - and of one of them comes back, QB3 must immediately leave the game.
OK, so then Cunningham would finish the game and then Zappe could take over as QB1 the next week. Point still stands that Cunningham's game day role would be bigger than Zappe on a game-to-game basis.
 

Eddie Jurak

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OK, so then Cunningham would finish the game and then Zappe could take over as QB1 the next week. Point still stands that Cunningham's game day role would be bigger than Zappe on a game-to-game basis.
We’ve seen nothing yet to suggest that BB has that kind of faith in Cunningham at QB. Heck, we’ve barely even seen Cunningham at QB.

I don’t think you get BB deciding that Cunningham can be the sole in game backup QB to Mac until BB has essentially decided that Cunningham is his #2 QB period.
 

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If Cunningham is that impactful of a player, Bill will find a way to get him on the game day roster. If this is all Michael Bishop fiction, then he won't. I'm not sure what metagaming it buys us.
 

RedOctober3829

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We’ve seen nothing yet to suggest that BB has that kind of faith in Cunningham at QB. Heck, we’ve barely even seen Cunningham at QB.

I don’t think you get BB deciding that Cunningham can be the sole in game backup QB to Mac until BB has essentially decided that Cunningham is his #2 QB period.
Yeah I don't think he needs to decide what you're saying in order to keep him on the roster. If he doesn't believe that Cunningham is going to make it through waivers, he will keep him on the 53 man roster.
 

Eddie Jurak

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Yeah I don't think he needs to decide what you're saying in order to keep him on the roster. If he doesn't believe that Cunningham is going to make it through waivers, he will keep him on the 53 man roster.
Keeping him on the 53 is a completely different issue than making him the #2 QB on gamedays.
 

DJnVa

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Patriots Training Camp Notebook: Wrapping up in Foxborough on Day 14 (985thesportshub.com)

As was the case on Sunday, we saw Malik Cunningham get into the mix at quarterback in team drills. Rather than run full drives, he would sub in for a play or two at times for both Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe.

Based on the way he’s being used right now, it looks more like the Patriots are preparing an offensive package for him rather than setting him up to compete for a full-time depth chart spot. Still, it’s another encouraging sign that there’s in fact a long-term plan for him in Foxborough.
 

mcpickl

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If Cunningham is that impactful of a player, Bill will find a way to get him on the game day roster. If this is all Michael Bishop fiction, then he won't. I'm not sure what metagaming it buys us.
an extra roster spot on game day?

i mean, if Cunningham does prove worthy of a game day spot (again big IF), you’d have an extra roster spot to use on say another offensive lineman or something if you were ok with Cunningham being your gameday backup instead of having both Cunningham and Zappe active.
 

RedOctober3829

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Keeping him on the 53 is a completely different issue than making him the #2 QB on gamedays.
It's pretty clear that they're trying a number of ways to get him on the field whether it's QB, WR, or special teams. I am almost hoping that Zappe does well enough in the preseason that that another team wants him. I think Cunningham is worth exploring more than Zappe.