The New England Patriots were stripped of their earliest 2017 fourth round draft selections due to DeflateGate, yet the team still managed to ship a 2017 fourth to the Indianapolis Colts in exchange for TE Dwayne Allen.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss did a great job of showing how the Patriots were able to obtain the necessary draft capital to acquire Allen stemming from a 2014 trade between the Patriots and the Houston Texans for QB Ryan Mallett.
Aug. 31, 2014 -- Acquired a 2016 seventh-round draft choice (243) from Houston for QB Ryan Mallett
Sept. 17, 2015 -- Acquired WR Keshawn Martin and a 2016 sixth-round pick (196) from Houston for a 2016 fifth-round pick (166, D.J. Reader)
March. 17, 2016 -- Acquired TE Martellus Bennett and a 2016 sixth-round pick (204) from Chicago for a 2016 fourth-round pick (127, Deiondre’ Hall)
April 30, 2016 -- Acquired a 2016 fifth-round pick (147) from Miami for the two 2016 sixth-round picks (196, 204), plus an original seventh-rounder (250, Scooby Wright III)
April 30, 2016 -- Acquired a 2017 fourth-round pick (132*) and 2016 seventh-rounder (225, Devin Lucien) from Seattle for the 2016 fifth-round pick (147) and 2016 seventh-round pick (243) from the Mallett deal
March 8, 2017 -- Acquired Allen and a 2017 sixth-round pick (200) from Indianapolis in exchange for a 2017 fourth-round pick (137*)
The stars represent the draft picks surrounding DeflateGate, with the 132nd overall pick lost as penalty, and the 137th overall pick a fair replacement. This is a great breakdown of how the Patriots acquired Allen...
...but we can go even deeper, even if Mike might think it’s a waste of time!
@PP_Rich_Hill Good summary, Rich. We could go back even further, too, on how Mallett was acquired. But felt like '14 was good start point.— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) March 9, 2017
We can look to see how the Patriots acquired Mallett to find that there is a common thread between Dwayne Allen and Randy Moss Joe Staley and Shawn Crable and Jerod Mayo.
Ryan Mallett Acquisition Tree
April 28, 2007 -- Acquired a 2007 fourth-round pick (110) and a 2008 first-round pick (7) from the San Francisco 49ers for the Patriots 2007 first-round pick (28, Joe Staley)
April 29, 2007 -- Acquired WR Randy Moss from the Oakland Raiders for a 2007 fourth-round pick (110).
April 26, 2008 -- Acquired a 2008 first-round pick (10, Jerod Mayo) and a 2008 third-round pick (78, Shawn Crable) from the New Orleans Saints for the 2008 first-round pick (7, originally from the 49ers) and a 2008 fifth-round pick (164, Carl Nicks)
Oct. 6, 2010 — Acquired a 2011 third-round draft choice (74, Mallett) from Minnesota for WR Randy Moss and a 2012 seventh-round pick (223, Trav Lewis)
Remember that the Patriots lost their original 2008 first-round pick due to SpyGate, but had this second first-round pick to soften the blow. This led Roger Goodell add the following language to the Patriots subsequent penalty to ensure maximum damage:
"If the Patriots have more than one selection in either of these rounds," the DeflateGate punishment edict reads. "The earlier selection shall be forfeited.”
So we can connect the SpyGate and DeflateGate penalty to how the Patriots had the draft picks to maneuver the board and acquire a boatload of players, including Dwayne Allen.
When we look at the full ledger and cancel out the differences, we find that the Patriots gave up:
2007 1st, 2008 5th, 2012 7th, 2016 4th, 2016 5th, and 2016 7th
Three wonderful years of WR Randy Moss, 2008 1st: LB Jerod Mayo, 2008 3rd: EDGE Shawn Crable, WR Keshawn Martin, one year of TE Martellus Bennett, 2016 7th: WR Devin Lucien, TE Dwayne Allen, 2017 6th: TBD
Now Staley and Nicks are both All Pro players, but so were Moss and Mayo. The Patriots have effectively given up their 2016 fourth, fifth, and seventh round picks for various amounts of time with WR Keshawn Martin, TE Martellus Bennett, WR Devin Lucien, and TE Dwayne Allen, along with an additional sixth-round pick.
There’s also a very real chance that the Patriots will earn a 2018 third- or fourth-round compensatory draft pick for losing Bennett in free agency, so this register could continue to run into the future.
Any way you cut it, the Patriots have done a pretty great job of flipping late round draft picks with a low NFL success rate into players with proven NFL ability. Maybe Martin and Allen might not have as much upside as the best two or three players from the final rounds of the draft- but by playing the odds, the Patriots are able to add assured contributors and cornerstone players.