Even after spending more money in free agency than ever before, the New England Patriots still have one major hole to fill. Finding a long-term answer at quarterback remains an important mission for Bill Belichick. After all, former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham doesn’t look like the answer.
Luckily for the Patriots, they just received some much-needed help from the New York Jets that puts them in a better position to land a quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft.
New England needs to find a long-term answer at quarterback in the 2021 NFL draft
With Cam Newton currently atop their depth chart, the Patriots clearly need to add more talent to their quarterback room. So for Bill Belichick, that makes the 2021 NFL draft particularly important.
While the Patriots own their highest draft pick in more than a decade, they don’t exactly sit in the strongest position to select a quarterback. Armed with the 15th selection, they still have a few teams in front of them who could go with a signal-caller in round one.
The Atlanta Falcons could stay put at No. 4 and take whoever’s left of Mac Jones, Trey Lance, and Justin Fields. Of course, new general manager Terry Fontenot could also sell the pick to the highest bidder and set the franchise up for future success.
That puts the Patriots in a tough spot. Considering the price the San Francisco 49ers recently paid to acquire the No. 3 pick, it’s fair to wonder whether Belichick will part ways with precious draft capital to move up a few spots.
Given his history, that doesn’t seem likely. Then again, after watching Tom Brady win his seventh Super Bowl ring, perhaps Belichick will mortgage future assets to land a potential franchise quarterback later this month.
The Patriots just received some much-needed help from the Jets
The entire outlook of the first half of the 2021 NFL draft completely changed Monday afternoon. Luckily for the Patriots, they just received some much-needed help from an unlikely source.
After months of speculation, the Jets finally brought an end to the disappointing Sam Darnold era. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported via Twitter that the Jets will send the 23-year-old to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for second- and fourth-round picks in 2022, plus a 2021 sixth-rounder.
For Darnold, the trade gives him a chance to resurrect his career playing in Joe Brady’s offense. Don’t be surprised if the former USC star looks much better now that he’s escaped from New York.
The deal also gives the Patriots much-needed help heading into the draft. By trading Darnold to the Panthers, the Jets just ensured at least one team picking in front of their division rivals will not take a quarterback. New England no longer needs to consider Carolina a threat to take Lance, Fields, or Jones at No. 8. And with the Cincinnati Bengals, Miami Dolphins, and Detroit Lions also expected to take a position player, the Patriots have a chance to make a move to secure the future of their franchise after all.
Will Bill Belichick pay a premium price to address the most important position in sports?
With the Panthers seemingly out of the quarterback market, the Patriots only have to worry about a few teams picking ahead of them.
The Falcons obviously stand out as a threat to take a new signal-caller at No. 4. And the Denver Broncos could also go in that direction with the ninth pick.
Then again, a phone call from Bill Belichick could change everything.
If New England truly loves a prospect like Fields or Lance, would a package of picks convince Atlanta to swap places in the draft? Better yet, if the Falcons stay home at four and don’t go with a quarterback, the Patriots might be able to swing a trade with the Panthers to move ahead of the Broncos. Moving from 15 to eight would certainly cost much less than jumping all the way up into the top-five.
That type of trade would represent a massive outlier for Belichick. Rather than moving down to acquire more picks, he would have to surrender at least one future first-rounder to leap into position to take a quarterback. Would he be willing to sacrifice significant resources to go all-in on a young prospect? Or does giving up multiple early-round picks give him too much cause for concern?
It will certainly be fascinating to watch how Belichick addresses the most important position in sports. Thanks to the Jets, he has one less team to worry about. But until the Patriots make a trade of their own, they will be out of reach to land a potential franchise quarterback.