Former Patriots starter Mac Jones embracing a move home and a backup role with the Jaguars

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Mac Jones had a ride waiting for him after he passed his physical with the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday.

And there was a familiar face behind the wheel.

“It’s kind of nice when your mom can pick you up from work,” Jones said.

Jones is embracing a return to his hometown after a dismal season in New England that cost him his starting job and put his long-term future in the league in doubt.

The former Alabama quarterback, the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft, isn’t quite at the point where he’s planning to move back in with his parents. But he’s ready for a fresh start he hopes “can get the train back on the tracks and get it moving in the right direction.”

“It’s about confidence,” Jones said. “It’s about putting in the work and doing everything right that you can. I feel like I did that and I’m going to continue to do that.

“The results may have been there some days and may have not been there others. But I think the important part for me is sticking to that process like I’ve always done, just trying to get back to that but at the same time just knowing my role, knowing where I’m at and just understanding that this is a great spot for me in my hometown.”

The Patriots traded Jones to the Jaguars for a sixth-round pick in next month’s NFL draft. The deal became official Thursday once Jones passed his physical.

Jones will vie with 30-year-old C.J. Beathard for the team’s backup spot behind Trevor Lawrence. Jones will count $4.96 million against the team’s salary cap in the final year of his rookie contract. Beathard is scheduled to count $2.4 million in the final year of his deal.

The Jaguars are unlikely to keep both on their 53-man roster to start the season.

Jones took the high road while talking about how things ended in New England. He made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2021, but regressed from there and ended up getting benched in favor of Bailey Zappe last season. Jones had 24 touchdowns passes and 23 interceptions in his final two seasons with the Pats.

“A lot of great learning experiences,” Jones said. “I learned from a great head coach, obviously one of the greatest of all time. Been fortunate to kind of work with some great head coaches and learned a lot, played a lot of games, started a lot of games. Obviously things went the way they did, and my goal is to kind of get the train back on the tracks.

“I think I can do that here, and the coaches here have talked to me about that and just how I can help the room and how I can learn from Trevor and everybody here.”

The Jaguars rolled out Jones and four free-agent newcomers Thursday: receiver Gabe Davis, safety Darnell Savage, cornerback Ronald Darby and kick returner Devin Duvernay. But the team declined to make general manager Trent Baalke and/or coach Doug Pederson available.

Instead, Jones took center stage and handled himself like a pro. He acknowledged that he and the Patriots agreed to a “mutual parting of ways was the best decision for both of us.”

“I have all the respect in the world for those guys up there,” he said. “My first team, drafted me in the first round, can’t thank them enough. … For me, it was just about moving on and getting back home, and I can’t be more excited. For them, it’s about moving forward and turning the page. So really that’s kind of what we decided, and I think it’s a great decision.”

And now he’s home, where he hopes to get his grandmother to her first NFL game and spend more time with other family members.

“I don’t think I’ll be staying with my parents, though,” he quipped. “Maybe. We’ll see. … But it’ll be good.”