With the entire NFL focused on schedule release day, the New England Patriots and Las Vegas Raiders decided to spice things up a bit. The two teams came to a trade agreement that would send quarterback Jarrett Stidham and a seventh-round draft pick in 2023 from New England to Las Vegas in return for a sixth-rounder that same year.
The move in itself is not a surprise, and neither are the teams involved. That said, let’s take a closer look at what it means from a Patriots perspective.
New England has sufficient quarterback depth even with Stidham gone
Stidham’s outlook in New England was a murky one before the offseason even began. His 2021 season was a disappointment, he had slid down the quarterback depth chart, and he was headed into a contract year without having started a single game in three seasons.
When the Patriots then selected Western Kentucky quarterback Bailey Zappe in the fourth round of the draft, it became clear that Stidham would not have much of a future with the club. The Zappe pick essentially sealed Stidham’s fate, and it also gave New England an additional layer of depth at the most important position on the field.
With the rookie in the fold and Stidham off to Las Vegas, the Patriots’ quarterback depth chart therefore now looks as follows:
QB1 Mac Jones
QB2 Brian Hoyer
QB3 Bailey Zappe
QB4 D’Eriq King*
*projected to change positions in the NFL
Mac Jones is the undisputed starter coming off an impressive rookie campaign. Brian Hoyer, meanwhile, was re-signed to a two-year deal earlier this offseason. Given that he is already 36, the end of the road already is near; Zappe, the current third-string quarterback, is a prime candidate to take over at one point in the future.
In that constellation, Stidham would only have been the fourth option to begin with. Him either getting traded or release was expected.
Stidham’s departure creates minimal cap space
One additional benefit of trading Stidham is the Patriots creating some much-needed cap relief. To be fair, though, that relief is not enough to drastically move the needle one way or another: according to salary cap expert Miguel Benzan, moving on from the 25-year-old creates net cap savings of $70,000.
The Patriots are now $722,145 under the cap. They still need to make additional moves to be able to do business during the 2022 season — including getting their draft class signed ahead of training camp.
The trade is the first of its kind since 2009
Even with offseason workouts going on across the league and the regular season schedule to be announced, the three-month window between the draft and the start of training camp is usually the quietest time on the NFL calendar. It is therefore no surprise that the trade market is rather inactive as well.
Just take a look at the Patriots’ recent history. Before sending Stidham to the Raiders they have not made any trades in that window since 2009. The last Patriot involved in a trade between the end of the draft and the start of camp was tight end Alex Smith.
New England acquired Smith on April 30, 2009 for a fifth-round selection in the 2010 draft. He was released on roster cutdown day just four months later.
The New England-Las Vegas pipeline is alive and well
Stidham is just the latest ex-Patriot to be acquired by the Raiders this offseason. With former New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and director of player personnel Dave Ziegler coming over as head coach and general manager, respectively, the club has brought several former Patriots players, coaches and executives aboard: including McDaniels and Ziegler, Stidham is now the 19th person to make that move.
New England slightly improves its draft positioning
Trading Stidham to the Raiders has a minimal impact on the Patriots’ 2023 draft, but an impact nonetheless. The team will now officially own three sixth-round selections plus a fourth expected to arrive through the NFL’s compensatory draft picks formula. In turn, New England is currently not slated to select in the seventh round.
In total, the team’s projected future draft capital looks as follows with the Stidham trade in the books:
- Round 1
- Round 2
- Round 3 (from Carolina)
- Round 3 (compensatory)
- Round 4
- Round 4 (from Los Angeles)
- Round 6
- Round 6 (from Carolina)
- Round 6 (from Las Vegas)
- Round 6 (compensatory)
The two compensatory selections, projected to be earned for losing cornerback J.C. Jackson and guard Ted Karras in free agency this year, are not yet official. Accordingly, New England cannot use them as part of any trades at this point in time.