New England Patriots fans have been forced to watch an entire NFL playoff tournament without their team for the first time since 2008. To make matters worse, they also have had to watch Tom Brady, who left the organization as a free agent last year, advance to yet another Super Bowl. Understandably, this has made the fan base desperate to find a quarterback who can make the Patriots competitive again.
But, we don’t want to wait! Trade whatever you need for Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers, or Deshaun Watson, just get a great QB so the Patriots can get into the playoffs again!
Let’s pump the brakes for a bit, shall we?
Obviously if you can get Deshaun Watson or Aaron Rodgers, you do what you have to in order to make that happen. I just do not see a situation in which that is possible for the Patriots. Even including a player like Stephon Gilmore in the deal it would still cost at least two first-round draft selections, if not three, to pull it off. I don’t think Bill Belichick does that, nor do I think his team can put together the best offer even if he would.
So, for the sake of this argument, let’s say those two players are not available. But that’s not it: I’m not trading the 15th overall selection this year for anyone else either. Full stop.
The reasoning is simple. This year, it looks like there are four franchise-altering quarterbacks available in the draft. While some people think that they will obviously all go within the top-5 or top-10, that is not a guarantee. Imagine if you traded pick number 15 overall to the Detroit Lions for Matthew Stafford, and then Trey Lance, or — God forbid! — Zach Wilson, is sitting there just waiting for you to take them.
Is that likely? Probably not, but what is likely is that they are available somewhere between the fifth and tenth overall pick and that the Patriots can use their own first-rounder and other assets to move up the board to take one of them.
Again, this is all pure conjecture, and we don’t know how things will shake out on draft night, but I’m not giving away a chance at one of these guys for Matthew Stafford.
I don’t want to hate on Stafford either. He’s a good player, and will certainly make New England better. But he’s also going to be 33 soon, and who knows how much he has left in the tank. Are the Patriots really going to be competing for a Super Bowl in the next two-to-three years? If they are not, I think making such a trade would not make sense from the team’s perspective.
I know plenty of people don’t like Jimmy Garoppolo, and I’m willing to admit that Stafford is a superior player, but Jimmy G is likely getting cut this season unless he too gets traded. He might be available at a fraction of the cost a player like Stafford — let alone Watson or Rodgers — would command. In my opinion, the 96th overall pick for Garoppolo (who would have to restructure his contract along the way) would be better value than using No. 15 to get Stafford aboard.
Maybe you won’t be as good a team in that scenario, but then you still have the ability to pick up a very good and comparatively cheap player in the middle of the first round — or even trade up to get a quarterback if the right one drops into your range. The Patriots are not just one quarterback away from winning a championship again, especially when that QB has yet to win a playoff game and might have to do that with a depleted supporting cast in New England.
In the end it comes down to New England’s future prospects. I don’t know about you, but I’m not necessarily interested in the team being better next year — I’m interested in making the team better for the foreseeable future. You have a chance to do that with the 15th overall selection, and that is something that you should not give up unless it’s for a franchise-altering player.
Matthew Stafford simply isn’t that, and given the current state of the Patriots so is no other quarterback you could bring in without giving up multiple first-rounders.
Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast. Interact with him on Twitter @plane_pats.