The Patriots raised some eyebrows two weeks ago when they traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams for the No. 23 pick, giving them two first-rounders, two second-rounders and a third-rounder heading into the 2018 NFL Draft. The knee-jerk reaction: New England's making a move for a quarterback.
But that scenario seemed far-fetched for several reasons. First, Tom Brady might be 40 years old, but he has repeatedly said he wants to play a few more years. Second, the Patriots had Brady's successor on the roster as recently as last October before they sent Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a measly second-round pick.
Of course, the speculation that Brady may be contemplating his future changes everything. And even if Brady plays in 2018 -- which is the expectation -- with Garoppolo now gone there is a gaping void on the depth chart behind him. Which brings full circle: Could the Patriots seriously consider making a move for a quarterback in the first round of next week's draft?
NESN.com's Doug Kyed reports that the team has "expressed interest" in UCLA's Josh Rosen, who could go anywhere from No. 2 to No. 6 according to the most recent round of CBSSports.com mock drafts. But other mock drafts have Rosen still on the board at No. 9, when the 49ers are on the clock, and if the Patriots truly want him they have they'd have the draft capital to move up and get him.
The draft trade value chart says it would take either the Patriots' No. 23 overall pick and the 31st overall pick or Nos. 23, 43 and 95 to move up. The 49ers may owe the Patriots a favor anyway after acquiring quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for just a second-round pick. Either scenario seems worthwhile for a quarterback deemed by some as the most talented passer in the draft.
While the Patriots may truly feel Rosen is a franchise passer, we're not convinced the 49ers feel like they owe New England a favor. Either way, Will Brinson and Jason La Canfora discussed the logistics of the Pats moving up for a quarterback -- and just how far they'd be willing to go -- in the most recent Pick Six Podcast.
Ultimately, Kyed concludes that it's "hard to say" just how interested New England might be in Rosen, especially since the organization has shown interest in several quarterbacks during the pre-draft process. With Brady expected to return for at least one more year, it seems more likely that the Pats will follow their blueprint from 2012, the last time they had two first-rounders: Bolster the defense, which was a weak spot a season ago.
Six years ago, the team selected Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower. This time around, don't be surprised if they add depth at pass rusher and in the secondary, two areas the Eagles exposed during the Super Bowl.