According to Albert Breer, the Patriots have contacted the Seattle Seahawks to determine how much it would cost to move up to the 12th overall pick. Breer states that it could be information gathering and I believe it has a lot to do with how the draft potentially falls.
Seattle has stated that they're willing and able to move around the draft board and the Patriots are clearly throwing their hat into the ring because, hey, why not. Bill Belichick putting his feelers out to the 12th overall pick shows the other top 20 picks that Belichick might be interested in a trade- and if they want to make a deal, he'll be in the front of their mind. While seeing the asking price of Seattle could be due diligence, he is also setting a cap for what he would be willing to pay to move up, or what other team is willing to trade to move down.
Of course, it's hard to ignore that the Seahawks are positioned two picks before the 14th Dallas Cowboys, who have outwardly expressed their interest in safety Mark Barron. The Patriots have a clear need for another top safety in their backfield and Barron is the best in the draft. While some analysts are thinking that Barron might not make it out of the top 10, if he does slide, the Patriots need to know the value and whether it's worth a trade to move up to grab him.
This leads to another idea- falling prospects. Perhaps the Patriots deem the talent at the top of the draft to be very impressive and they want to grab a player who, by luck of the draft, gets squeezed out of the top 10. A wide receiver like Michael Floyd, who Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald wants in the fold, could fall and be a game changer for the offense. If defensive tackle Fletcher Cox squeaks by the Carolina Panthers, he's a versatile player the Patriots would want on their defensive line. Defensive tackle Michael Brockers and outside linebacker Melvin Ingram are also potential targets.
Also, think about the flip side. The Seahawks want to generate a high market for their picks- they say have two target players in mind, but they're still willing to field offers. The San Diego Chargers want to fight for Barron, ahead of the Cowboys. Perhaps the Patriots are trying to figure out other teams information and what other teams are willing to pay by determining what the Seahawks want for the draft spot. If they can see what the market is, they can set the prices and make the transactions where the Patriots come out on top.
My thought: Don't look too hard into this research. The Patriots want to create a market and let everyone know how far and how willing they are to move in the draft. If the right player falls, and they probably have a target in mind, they need to know what it will take to move up. If they don't fall, it's no loss. Knowledge is power in the draft and Belichick is trying to have all the information heading into draft day.