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Patriots Coffee Talk 3/21: A Twist on Trading Future Picks

It's no secret that the Patriots are a team that often likes to maximize the value of their picks by trading them into future years. With a slew of picks in the first three rounds this year (17, 28, 33, 60, 74, 92), and only so many roster spots available, it is conceivable that the Patriots may look to trade one or more of those picks away. And because of the lockout, teams are not allowed to trade for players. So if the Patriots were to trade those picks, it would likely be to either move up or move into next year. But there's a twist on the whole "next year" part. Apparently, because although a 2011 draft is guaranteed under the most recent labor deal, no draft is guaranteed for 2012. Mike Florio of PFT explains the details:

Until the lockout is resolved, players can't be traded. Draft picks can be traded.

Future draft picks, beyond 2011, also can be traded. But an ominous caveat comes from ESPN's Chris Mortensen.

Per Mort, the league has advised teams that any trades of draft picks beyond 2011 will occur "at [their] own risk."

In other words, there may not be a draft in 2012.

That would be one potential outcome of the current Brady antitrust litigation. Though the case does not yet directly attack the draft itself since the labor agreement expressly contemplates that a draft will be held in 2011, we explained when the lawsuit was filed that the case could be amended in the future to include a member of the 2012 draft class, with a specific allegation that the draft violates antitrust laws.

You've got to think that there's no way the league or the players could allow a situation to take place where there is no draft in 2012. Plus, as Florio explains, if the players take away the draft, it will be a terrible PR hit. Nonetheless, if the Patriots plan on trading some of their picks into future years, this will likely weigh on their minds to some extent.

How do you think this could affect the Patriots draft strategy?