Coming off an uncharacteristically aggressive free agency period, the New England Patriots appear to have set themselves up nicely to make a trade up the board in the first round of the draft. The target for such a move would likely be a quarterback, with Ohio State’s Justin Fields seen as a possible candidate.
New England has indeed explored trading up, with the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Panthers both having engaged in talks earlier this week. The belief is that the Patriots also contacted other clubs ahead of them to get a feel for the market and how the board might fall not just at quarterback but other positions as well.
Moving up is not the only move head coach/general manager Bill Belichick and his team have explored, though. The Patriots, as first reported by Mike Giardi of NFL Network, have also worked the phones about possibly moving back from the 15th overall selection.
The club trying to cover all its bases and set itself up for every scenario should not be seen as a surprise. In case a move up the board does not materialize, or the Patriots do not like the value if they are on the clock at No. 15, trying to gain different assets in a trade down also makes sense — something Belichick himself pointed out earlier this month.
“Who do you move up for? Who do you take if you stay and what players are on the board? If players are on the board that you feel like don’t add a lot of value or maybe they’re not the kind of fit for your team that you’re looking for in that particular situation, then maybe you say, ‘OK maybe we consider moving back,’” he said during his annual pre-draft press conference.
“Now you can only move back if somebody else wants to move up so ultimately you have to be ready to pick but sometimes.”
The rumor mill also continues to run in regards to a potential trade for San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. New England is seen as the only realistic suitor for the 29-year-old, and has indeed shown some level of interest in him earlier during the offseason. There also was a report by NESN’s Dale Arnold on Wednesday that the team would be “working on a new contract” with Garoppolo to eventually set up a deal.
However, the belief at the time is that no move between the two sides is imminent and that no such restructure is currently in the process. While the Patriots are monitoring the situation and not categorically ruling out a trade for Garoppolo, he is in the same basic boat as the moves mentioned above: New England is doing its due diligence in order to be ready for whatever may or may not happen in the first and subsequent rounds of the draft.
A lot of things can and will happen over the next few hours and days, but one thing is certain. Belichick and company want to be prepared for every eventuality — whether it is a realistic quarterback target slipping into their range, or bringing back Garoppolo to compete against Cam Newton, Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala.