Once his signing is official, Grier will likely slot in behind Mac Jones and Bailey Zappe on the depth chart.
Here are five things to know about New England’s latest signal caller.
1. Grier has bounced around the NFL
After a successful college career at both Florida and West Virginia, Grier has slotted in as a depth quarterback across the NFL over the last few years.
Grier, 28, was initially selected by Carolina in the third round (100th overall) of the 2019 NFL Draft. He appeared in two regular-season games with the Panthers in 2019, completing 28 of 52 passes for 228 yards and four interceptions.
Ultimately, Grier played two seasons in Carolina before moving on to the Dallas Cowboys, where he served as a third-string option behind Dak Prescott and Cooper Rush in both 2021 and 2022.
He was one of the Cowboys’ final cuts last month at the end of preseason play, eventually signing on with the Bengals’ practice squad before landing in New England.
2. He made the most of his final reps of the 2023 preseason
Grier drew the short straw on Aug. 26 after the Cowboys traded for former top-3 pick Trey Lance in a deal with the 49ers.
With Lance taking over the QB3 spot in Dallas behind Prescott and Rush, Grier was destined to be one of the odd men out on roster cutdown day.
But with Grier’s time in Dallas coming to an end, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy gave the QB the opportunity to play all of the team’s final preseason game against the Raiders.
It was a gesture intended to give the 31 other teams in the NFL an extended look at Grier before he hit the open market. And the QB made the most of his opportunity.
In Dallas’ win over Vegas, Grier completed 29-of 35 pass attempts for 305 yards and two touchdowns while also adding 53 yards and two more rushing TDs off of ten carries.
“That was the best preseason quarterback performance I’ve seen since probably 1999, Matt [Hasselbeck], had some, some of these, but I’m just so proud of him [Grier],” McCarthy said postgame. “When I got the phone call [about the Trey Lance trade], when I hung up, I called Will immediately, and that’s tough. I thought he handled it very well and, and I just asked him to go out there and play your ass off tonight.”
3. Grier will stick around in New England for a bit
The Patriots’ QB room has been a carousel over the last week, and that’s with another talented signal caller in Malik Cunningham already holding his own on the practice squad.
On Monday, New England released Matt Corral from the left team/reserve list and Ian Book from the practice squad, but reversed course and were reportedly set to sign Corral to the practice squad on Tuesday. However, that deal fell through on Wednesday morning, leading to a vacancy on the roster.
Grier stands as the next man up for the Patriots behind Jones and Zappe. But don’t expect him to be another sudden departure as New England tinkers with its roster.
Because New England signed Grier off of another team’s practice squad, New England will need to carry him on their 53-man active roster for at least three weeks.
As the Patriots continue to mull their options and try to identify the best possible backup option behind Jones, these next three weeks will give Bill Belichick and Co. ample time to see what they have in a QB like Grier.
4. Grier could come in handy next week against Dallas
Barring a slew of injuries, the Patriots likely won’t need to rely on Grier to win them any games under center.
But the former Cowboys QB could still be a valuable resource next week when it comes to prepping for another high-stakes matchup on Oct. 1 against the Cowboys.
Wins are now at a premium for the Patriots following an 0-2 start, and the Cowboys will present another daunting challenge for New England, especially down at AT&T Stadium.
But if the Patriots want to craft a plan to slow down Prescott and the Cowboys offense, a QB with an in-depth knowledge of Dallas’ playbook and offensive scheme like Grier will come in handy, especially on the scout team.
The Patriots want to see what Grier can do as a potential backup moving forward. But any added intel he can provide on the Cowboys stands as another coup for New England.
5. Grier has some familiarity with the Patriots’ offense
It should come as little surprise that the Patriots were intrigued by a QB prospect like Grier back in 2019.
As noted by Chris Price, Grier told reporters at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine that the offense he ran at West Virginia had plenty of similarities to the one installed by the Patriots.
*Honestly, Jake Spavital, my OC at West Virginia, watched a lot of Patriots film and built our offense off a lot of what they (do),” Grier said. “Obviously, different terminology, but we would see stuff and be like, ‘We’re going to do that.’ Tom Brady does all right. So, we watched a lot of Tom Brady film.”
“In 2017, we were very wide-spread oriented, which is kind of what Spav. brought to the game from other places he’s been. It’s different. A lot what we did with the Patriots was we saw they were doing a lot of tighter split stuff, and they were getting free releases with guys, working isolations and different routes all the way across the field.”
Conor Ryan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.