There’s no sense in doing a historical deep dive because it doesn’t take a genius to tell you that the New England Patriots haven’t traded up in the first round for just about as long as we can remember.
But 2021 could be a lot different for Bill Belichick and Co.
Many are expecting this to be the team’s most aggressive offseason in over two decades given how last year ended and with all of the voids that need to be filled.
The good news is that Pats are flush with cap space and hold the No. 15 overall pick.
However, as for the draft, that slot likely won’t get them what they need if that’s where they’ll be looking for their next quarterback.
According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, the Patriots have been “aggressively” scouting the top five quarterback prospects — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones — which could indicate they might be willing to trade UP for the first time in … forever?
On the surface, if you look at the draft order, it’s clear teams like the Jaguars, Jets, Falcons, Panthers, Lions, Panthers and Broncos are likely to or could prioritize landing a QB. If that’s the case, all of the premier prospects will be gone before the Pats get called. And we can’t truly rule out the 49ers and Vikings, both of whom pick before New England and could be parting ways with Jimmy Garoppolo and Kirk Cousins.
Would the Patriots…actually trade up? In real life?
Then again, the Patriots are still in scouting mode and it’s far from clear if they’re sold on any of the guys beyond Lawrence and Wilson — it’s safe to say they won’t have a chance to snag either of them.
So that means they’d be moving up at least five spots to roll the dice on Fields, Lance or Jones, and Howe notes that would cost them No. 15 plus next year’s first-rounder. If they want to move as high as No. 6 or 7, that could cost them an additional mid-rounder. But you know Belichick won’t be paying anywhere close to that price unless he’s fully convinced the prospect he’s eyeing will be making an immediate impact.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss also added that the Patriots are exhausting their options left and right, with the draft being one of those avenues. But he doesn’t see that being the solution in the end.
“The past month has been devoted to exploring all options — draft, free agency, trades — in an offseason when 15 to 18 teams could emerge with new QBs. The carousel is spinning. The best-case scenario might be to acquire the original Tom Brady succession plan, Jimmy Garoppolo, from the San Francisco 49ers. But San Francisco needs to be convinced it has an upgrade before moving in that direction.”
The one thing that’s for certain? The Patriots will be keeping fans on their toes with their search, and it could get particularly hectic with free agency just over two weeks away.