McShay: Sources Say Patriots More Likely to Trade Back amid Justin Fields Rumors

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 26, 2021

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick during an NFL football game against the New York Jets, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
Stew Milne/Associated Press

There are a few teams that are unpredictable heading into NFL draft, which gets underway Thursday. The New England Patriots are one of them.

ESPN's Todd McShay is hearing that the Pats are more likely to move down to accumulate additional draft capital than trade into the top 10 to get one of the top remaining quarterbacks on the board, such as Justin Fields:

"Two separate sources within the league (not inside the Patriots organization) said New England is more likely to move back than up based on pre-draft conversations. So no, it doesn't sound like the Patriots are going up the board to get a QB. And like we all already know, moving back is more in line with what coach Bill Belichick likes to do on draft day."

To put into perspective the variance of reports coming out about New England, here's what Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network had to say Monday:

Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero

Several teams have been making calls about getting into the top 10 of next week’s NFL Draft — including the #Patriots, who could have their eyes on Ohio State QB Justin Fields if he begins to slide. @gmfb @nflnetwork https://t.co/GjJazJXZQp

And Albert Breer of SI.com split the difference, writing that the Pats "have at least touched base with teams in the top 10, though I spoke with one Sunday that was skeptical of how serious they are about trading up."

Peter King of Pro Football Talk is skeptical of the Patriots trading major draft capital to move up the board too:

"You know the option I just don't see? Bill Belichick trading a gold mine to move up eight or 11 spots to get the quarterback of the future. I think he's much more likely to deal for Jimmy Garoppolo (but not with a first-round pick), or to draft a Kyle Trask in the second or third round, or play it out with Cam Newton this year and then see what happens next offseason."

Here's what nobody is questioning: The Patriots need to upgrade at quarterback. Newton wasn't very good last year (2,657 yards, eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions through the air; 592 rushing yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground; 7-8 record in 15 starts) and he'll turn 32 in May. 

Garoppolo perhaps would be an upgrade in the passing game, but if he was one of the better quarterbacks in the league, San Francisco wouldn't have traded a small fortune to move up to No. 3, where they'll presumably take their quarterback of the future. 

Hence the buzz around New England potentially moving up to take a player like Fields. In such a scenario, the Pats could sit him behind Newton for a season or less, working him into the system slowly. That part of the equation makes sense. 

Ben Volin @BenVolin

A lot of buzz that Justin Fields will drop, but a league source just told me that "something is seriously wrong if he gets past 3." So much intrigue with the top 5 QBs -- evaluations and projections are all over the place

The part that doesn't is the sheer number of draft picks New England would probably have to part with to move into the top 10. And so the Pats remain one of the mystery teams at this year's draft.