With the NFL draft only eight days away, the rumor mill is already working overtime. While everything has been quiet on the New England Patriots’ front so far, multiple teams ahead of them in the first round are reportedly willing to trade down from their respective spots — giving the Patriots a possible chance to move up from the 15th overall selection in case they are looking to add one of the top-tier passers available.
While there is virtually no chance that the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers will move on from their picks atop the draft, seven clubs behind them have been subject of such rumors. Let’s take a brief look at them.
1-4 Atlanta Falcons: With quarterbacks expected to go 1-2-3, the Falcons are definitely a team to watch in the coming week. While they might be in the market for a quarterback as well to groom behind Matt Ryan, they are reportedly also exploring a trade-down. If they move down the board, the Patriots appear to be a realistic partner: jumping from No. 15 to No. 4 would put the team in a position to pick one of the top-five passers, even though the price associated with such a jump will probably be too high for the club’s liking.
1-6 Miami Dolphins: Miami has already made two trades in the first round — first from No. 3 to No. 12 before moving back up again to No. 6 — but according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport is “considering” moving down from the sixth overall spot as well. As always the price will be the deciding factor, but quarterback-needy teams willing to climb ahead of others might be willing to pay up in order to get their guy. Once again, however, the Patriots might not be that club especially given their divisional rivalry with the Dolphins.
1-7 Detroit Lions: While the Lions might prefer staying put if a quarterback falls into their lap, it seems moving down the board to add more ammunition to address a roster full of holes is the more reasonable approach if a proper offer came their way. According to multiple reports, Detroit is therefore a team believed to be open to the idea of trading down.
1-8 Carolina Panthers: Sam Darnold being acquired via trade does not eliminate the Panthers from taking a QB in Round 1, but it gives the team more flexibility. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, that flexibility has led to the team engaging in conversations about giving up the eighth overall selection in a trade-down. For what it is worth, back in 2016 that pick and the 176th overall selection were traded from Tennessee to Cleveland for picks No. 15, No. 76 and a second-rounder the following year. If the Patriots want to move up into this spot the price might be similar.
1-9 Denver Broncos: Denver has been identified as a team “that’s been sniffing around just about everything, and could trade up or trade down,” per Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer. A lot will depend on the classic factors, though: How will the board fall, and what offers will come in for a potential move down? As a team possibly looking for an upgrade at quarterback, nothing can be ruled out in regards to the Broncos’ plans.
1-12 Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles already moved out of the sixth overall selection in a trade with the Dolphins, and it seems as if they might be willing to drop even further. They have reportedly explored such a move, but are also not married to the idea — quite the opposite: rumor has it that Philadelphia might even be willing to jump back up again.
1-11 New York Giants: NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday that the Giants would be “internally considering” trading back from the 11th overall selection even though Dave Gettleman has never traded down in the first round in eight drafts as a general manager. Still, if he and his club were open to such a move it might be within New England’s range.
At the end of the day, those rumors do not show clear intention on any of the teams’ part. However, they illustrate just how many moving pieces are at play when it comes to the first round of the draft in particular: if supply and demand meet anything is possible, even the Patriots making a sizable jump up the board.
Bill Belichick recently spoke about the topic as well, noting that trading up on Day 1 is not the same than doing just that in one of the later rounds
“The first round is a little bit different because you’re trading for a very specific player at that point. Not that you’re not trading for a player in the second and third round — I’m not saying that — when a team moves up, they move up to take a certain player that they want,” New England’s head coach/general manager said.
“Not everybody’s necessarily after that player, whereas in the first five, 10 picks, whatever it is, when you’re trading there you’re trading for a certain guy and when they trade out of it they know that they’re trading away from that player. It might be one or two players but it’s a much more defined situation.”