Free agent quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson has connections with Jacksonville Jaguars

Photo courtesy: Bob Butrym

Free agent quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson remains hopeful for an NFL opportunity.

There is one connection that stands out and the veteran passer could use it to his advantage to earn another shot: Trent Baalke. He’s the current general manager of the Jacksonville Jaguars who recently hired Urban Meyer as head coach.

Baalke was the San Francisco 49ers’ GM from 2011 to 2016. While the 56-year-old football executive was in the Golden State, Bethel-Thompson was signed three separate times. The 32-year-old signal caller never played in a game with the 49ers, but he’s developed and improved since his three stints in San Fran.

In 2019, Bethel-Thompson was the only CFL quarterback to throw for over 4,000 yards and 25 touchdowns with the Toronto Argonauts. It was the most impressive film the six-foot-four, 220-pound pivot has put on tape on his pro career. Former Montreal Alouettes’ assistant general manager Tom Gamble took notice while evaluating players.

Bethel-Thompson has played 42 CFL games, completing 68 percent of his passes for 6,227 yards, 35 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions through three seasons in Canada. He has rushed 48 times for 276 yards and two touchdowns, including a 5.8 yards per carry average.

Gamble served as director of player personnel for the 49ers with Baalke and has since joined him in Jacksonville. According to sources, Gamble was high on Bethel-Thompson and had been pushing the Als to sign him as an insurance policy behind Vernon Adams Jr. Even though it’s a different league, it’s plausible that interest could cross the border.

Since going unselected in the 2011 NFL Draft, Bethel-Thompson has been a part of 13 teams and counting. He’s a consummate professional who has experience and could be a valuable quarterback in many situations. Personnel men and players around the CFL recognize the upside of the late-bloomer — all Bethel-Thompson has been lacking is a legitimate chance in the NFL.

The Jaguars hold the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and are expected to choose Clemson University star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. However, Bethel-Thompson could be a bargain and provide value at the quarterback position with the new regime in Jacksonville.

Justin Dunk is a football insider, sports reporter and anchor.