Former B.C. Lions QB Nathan Rourke re-signs with New England Patriots

Patriots are expected to take a quarterback with the third overall pick in the upcoming NFL Draft

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Nathan Rourke is going back to the New England Patriots, according to several sources.

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Where he fits on their depth chart is very much to be determined.

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The former B.C. Lions quarterback signed a free-agent deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of last year. Rourke, who was born in Victoria and grew up mainly in Oakville, Ont., was claimed off waivers by the Patriots in December but did not see any game action.

He signed a three-year deal with Jacksonville last January after working out with 12 teams, and the Jaguars were trying to put him back on the practice roster after a brief stay on the active roster when New England claimed him.

New England struggled last season, finishing 4-13. The Patriots mutually agreed to part ways with longtime head coach Bill Belichick immediately after the season and quickly installed Jerod Mayo as bench boss.

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According to 3DownNation’s Justin Dunk, Rourke was scheduled to become an exclusive rights free agent on March 13, and the Patriots needed to extend a one-year qualifying offer at the league minimum to retain his rights. For a player with one accrued season, that amounts to a contract worth US$915,000.

New England includes quarterbacks Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe, who both finished the season ahead of Rourke on the depth chart.  They also have the No. 3 overall pick in NFL Draft April 25 and there’s been speculation that they’re going to take a quarterback. Mel Kiper, Jr. at ESPN has New England drafting North Carolina pivot Drake Maye, for instance. reported earlier this week the Patriots plan to remake their quarterback situation, starting with drafting a quarterback early. 

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Rourke had led the Lions to an 8-1 start in 2022 when it was announced that he had suffered a Lisfranc sprain in his right foot in the waning moments of a 28-10 win in Saskatchewan on Aug. 19 and it would require surgery that would put him on the sidelines for several weeks.

He led the CFL in passing yardage (3,281) and touchdown passes (25) at the time and had been named one of the league’s top three performers in six of those nine weeks.

He came back for the regular season finale on Oct. 28, and guided the Lions to a win over the Calgary Stampeders in the West semifinals before they fell to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West final.

Even with missing all that time, Rourke was named the CFL’s Most Outstanding Canadian for the season, becoming the first quarterback to take the honour since Gerry Dattilio of the Montreal Alouettes in 1980.

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