The New England Patriots are reportedly monitoring a potential trade into the top 10 of Thursday's NFL draft if Justin Fields begins to fall.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Network reported the Patriots have been making calls with teams, looking to move up from No. 15 overall.
Fields could go as high as No. 3 to the San Francisco 49ers, but it's looking increasingly like Mac Jones will be the pick. That would create a scenario wherein a team will almost certainly make a trade to move up and select Fields, who was considered the second-best quarterback in the 2021 class for most of last season before losing some momentum as the process played out.
Fields threw for 2,100 yards and 22 touchdowns against six interceptions while adding 383 yards and five scores on the ground in 2020. He helped lead Ohio State to a national championship berth before losing to Jones and Alabama.
The Patriots remain in search of a long-term option under center after Tom Brady's departure last offseason. They re-signed Cam Newton to a one-year contract, but the 2015 NFL MVP looked like a shell of his former self as a passer for most of 2020. While some of that could be blamed on the Patriots' lack of skill-position talent, a modern-day quarterback throwing for only eight touchdowns across an entire season is cause for concern.
The Patriots could theoretically draft Fields and use Newton as a bridge/mentor in 2021. They have already been uncharacteristically aggressive this offseason, signing several veteran pieces they hope can fortify the roster and return them to the postseason. While the Patriots still lack an elite receiver, they added Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to give them perhaps the NFL's best one-two punch at tight end.
Some form of competition for Newton will be coming soon, either via the draft or an offseason trade. The Patriots have been regularly linked to bringing back Jimmy Garoppolo, though that would require the 49ers lower their first-round asking price.