There are two more shoes left to fall for the New England Patriots this offseason and time is running out for both to happen. CB Malcolm Butler and QB Jimmy Garoppolo have been the center of potential trade talks with the New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns, respectively, and both present potential gold mines in the upcoming draft.
The Patriots traded away their first round pick to the Saints for WR Brandin Cooks and dropped out of the second round and into the third round in exchange for Carolina Panthers EDGE Kony Ealy. Butler and Garoppolo present an opportunity for the Patriots to regain draft capital.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft has his own opinion on whether these trades should take place, which he shared at the Annual Owners’ Meeting.
“We have an offer sheet to [Butler] and I know he has the ability to go out on the market and get someone to sign him,” Kraft said, via NOLA.com. “And then we either match it or get the draft pick, the first-round draft pick. I'm rooting, I hope he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us. I have a great affection for him. He actually was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team.”
It should be noted that Kraft is rooting for the offer sheet and a year of play from Butler at a bargain $3.91 million and there’s no talk of an extension in his reply. Additionally, Kraft has previously expressed interest in retaining certain players like Chandler Jones and Jamie Collins, only to see them traded at various points.
As for Garoppolo, Kraft was a lot less certain in his ideal future, via Cleveland.com.
“I charge [head coach Bill Belichick] to handle all football matters,” Kraft said about the possibility of trading Garoppolo. “We're privileged to have the greatest quarterback in the history of the game [Tom Brady], and it looks like he's playing pretty solid. He's off the charts, in my opinion, and we're lucky to have him. That's the most important position on the team, needless to say. I don't think anyone can say you have too much depth at that position.
“I charge him to make those decisions, Bill, and I'll leave that with him.”
This certainly leaves the door wide open for a potential trade. The asking price for Garoppolo has risen with each consecutive month and currently sits at a projected two first round picks. The Browns certainly have the draft capital, but they are hesitant to spend a pair of firsts on Garoppolo.
If the Saints and Browns reach the Patriots’ asking prices for Butler and Garoppolo, New England would have all of a sudden go from having zero picks in the first two rounds to having the equivalent of three first rounders.
Of course there are different ways to obtain draft capital. The Saints hold the 11th, 32nd, 42nd, 76th, and 103rd overall picks in the first three rounds; the Browns have the 1st, 12th, 33rd, 52nd, 65th overall picks. The Patriots might be more interested in the second and third round picks (ex: the 33rd and 65th overall picks have the same equivalent value as the 20th overall pick).
There is still time before the draft for these trades to take place and as first round cornerbacks like Sidney Jones and Fabian Moreau suffer injuries and the quarterback prospects draw more scrutiny, the value of Butler and Garoppolo become more apparent.