Realistic Draft-Day Trade Possibilities for the New England Patriots
According to NEPatriotsDraft.com, the Patriots have made multiple draft-day transactions in each of the past five (at least) years. They trade up, down, into the future, for players and with players. Anything is possible when you have Bill Belichick at the helm.
Here are five trade possibilities—and likely partners—that may go down during the 2014 NFL draft.
Trade Ryan Mallett
The New England Patriots have turned a backup quarterback—Matt Cassel—into riches before, but don't expect to get a similar second-round pick out of current backup Ryan Mallett.
Mallett cost Belichick a third-round pick, which he would love to recoup. It might be a tall task to recover that in 2014, but a creative deal could be reached involving exchanging picks and future considerations.
A coach—perhaps Mallet's former coach, Bill O'Brien—who is looking to bring in some pieces that fit might be willing to part with a couple of mid-round selections for someone with knowledge of his system.
Most Likely Deal: Patriots trade Mallett and a sixth-round pick to the Houston Texans for a fifth-round pick in 2014 and a fourth-round pick in 2015.
Trade Up into Round 1
The New England Patriots have a roster brimming with talent. They don't need 20 fourth-round picks this year; there isn't any room. They need impact players.
However, the 2014 NFL draft isn't just about 2014. Mortgaging five future chances at a Super Bowl for a slightly better chance at one isn't worth it in the long run.
Should a player such as Eric Ebron (TE, North Carolina), Mike Evans (WR, Texas A&M) or Anthony Barr (OLB, UCLA) start to tumble on draft day—perhaps into the 20s—Belichick needs to be ready to pounce.
Most Likely Deal: Patriots trade No. 29, a fourth-round pick and swap picks in the sixth round for the Kansas City Chiefs' No. 23 pick.
Trade out of Round 1
While the New England Patriots need impact players rather than more depth, that doesn't mean they have to trade up.
There are first-round talents such as Troy Niklas, Dominique Easley, Teddy Bridgewater and more who could be had early on Day 2. There could be potential starters or key role players available early on Day 3. The later rounds will be ripe with upside.
If there are sufficient acceptable prospects on the board and the team in question is offering a sweet enough package, ensuring that the championship window in Foxborough stays open should be of paramount importance.
Most Likely Deal: Patriots trade their first and sixth-round pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars' second-, fourth- and fifth-round picks.
Trade Future Picks into the 2014 NFL Draft
Teams trade future picks into the current draft each and every year. Those teams don't have Belichick at the helm. In fact, according to PatsCap.com, the New England Patriots haven't traded a future pick into the current year since 1995.
With the talent in the 2014 NFL draft class, the New England Patriots and other teams may be tempted to trade their future picks into this year's draft. They'll see players available on Day 2 and want to pounce. Patience, however, is a virtue.
While Belichick could surprise me and make a bold move with his 2015 picks, I think he is far more likely to trade the other way.
Most Likely Deal: None
Trade Current Picks into the 2015 NFL Draft
As loaded as I just made the 2014 NFL draft seem, it may seem sacrilege to suggest that the New England Patriots could trade picks into the future. However, the strong draft class cuts both ways.
If a prospect whom another team covets falls to No. 29—especially a quarterback—Belichick could ask for a king's ransom. Overspending is easy to do for GMs if they are on their last legs.
New England has thrived in the past with multiple first-round picks. With talented quarterbacks such as Marcus Mariota (Oregon), Jameis Winston (Florida State) and Brett Hundley (UCLA) possibly in next year's class, having two first-round selections could be a franchise-changing situation. Hit a top-five pick and you'll be able to ask for a monster compensation package.
Most Likely Deal: Patriots trade their 2014 first-round pick for the Oakland Raiders' 2015 first-round pick and third- and sixth-round picks in 2014.
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