The NFL Draft is all about welcoming rookies to the league, but it's not only about that. It's also a breeding ground for potential trades. Free agency, of course, usually crams some of the biggest deals of the offseason into a tight window, but sometimes, there's nothing that accelerates negotiations like a team being on the clock with a widely coveted selection.
The two sides are, to a degree, big on-field rivals, namely because of their two Super Bowl encounters over the last 16 years. (Tom Brady and Bill Belichick edged Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb after the 2004 season, before Nick Foles and Doug Pederson bested New England's dynastic duo following 2017.)
Off the field, however, they've acted like trusted companions, striking seven different trades in the last 10 years and nine over the last 11, which accounts for all of Howie Roseman's time as a top personnel executive in Philly.
Here's a look at all of the Eagles-Patriots trades to go down in recent history:
- 2019: Fifth-round pick (Eagles) for a fifth- and seventh-round pick (Patriots)
- 2019: DE Michael Bennett, seventh-round pick (Eagles) for a fifth-round pick (Patriots)
- 2018: Seventh-round pick, future seventh-round pick (Eagles) for seventh-round pick (Patriots)
- 2016: CB Eric Rowe (Eagles) for a fourth-round pick (Patriots)
- 2013: DT Isaac Sopoaga, sixth-round pick (Eagles) for a fifth-round pick (Patriots)
- 2011: Sixth-round pick (Eagles) for a sixth-round pick (Patriots)
- 2010: LB Tracy White, seventh-round pick (Eagles) for a future sixth-round pick (Patriots)
- 2009: Two fifth-round picks (Eagles) for CB Ellis Hobbs (Patriots)
- 2009: WR Greg Lewis, seventh-round pick (Eagles) for fifth-round pick (Patriots)
With that extensive partnership in mind, it only seemed appropriate to forecast how Philly and New England might team up again, during the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are five potential trades -- some mild, some major -- that could make sense:
Eagles get: 2020 first-round pick (No. 23), 2020 fifth-round pick (No. 172)
Patriots get: 2020 first-round pick (No. 21)
This one's pretty simple: The Patriots have an excess of picks; the Eagles do not. So New England parts with a late-rounder in order to move up two spots and, presumably, gets the quarterback, wide receiver or pass rusher it desires. It's a small jump, but considering the WR-hungry Minnesota Vikings pick 22nd, there could easily be reason for New England to pounce.
Eagles get: WR Mohamed Sanu, 2020 third-round pick (No. 87), 2020 fourth-round pick (No. 125)
|Patriots get: 2020 second-round draft pick (No. 53)|
This one stings a bit for New England after the Pats traded the No. 55 pick to acquire Sanu at the 2019 deadline. With Tom Brady gone, however, it makes less sense to keep a so-so 30-year-old WR with a $6.5 million 2020 cap hit. By giving up two mid-rounders to practically reclaim their second-round spot, they could get a younger toy for quarterback Jarrett Stidham or upgrade at linebacker, where both Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts no longer reside. The Eagles, meanwhile, hardly "fix" their No. 1 WR issues but get a strong secondary piece in Sanu for what equals out to about a late fourth-round price, all while gaining an extra pick.
Eagles get: 2020 third-round pick (No. 87), 2020 third-round pick (No. 98), S Obi Melifonwu
Patriots get: TE Dallas Goedert
The Eagles shouldn't be in a hurry to auction off Carson Wentz's young weapons, but Zach Ertz is one of the quarterback's best friends, not to mention one of the game's best at his position. As Ertz approaches another big-money deal, the Eagles have to decide whether they should be committing heavy resources to two-TE sets for the long haul. In this scenario, they give the Patriots the Rob Gronkowski replacement they have been hunting, recouping essentially the value of a late second-rounder. Melifonwu, an athletic hybrid buried on the Pats' depth chart, is a throw-in for an Eagles secondary experimenting with post-Malcolm Jenkins projects.
Eagles get: 2020 sixth-round pick (No. 213)
Patriots get: QB Kyle Lauletta
This might be the most plausible deal on the list. In case you didn't hear, the Pats are looking to add a QB with Brady in Tampa. Stidham has the inside track on the Week 1 gig, but New England is a sure bet to add camp competition for him and Brian Hoyer. If, somehow, Belichick is serious about handing the reins to Stidham, Lauletta makes for an intriguing No. 3. He was consistently linked to the Pats coming out of Richmond in 2018, spent a year watching Wentz and Josh McCown, and is still just 25. The Eagles, meanwhile, might take their own developmental QB in the draft, with Nate Sudfeld likely to take over as the No. 2.
Eagles get: 2020 first-round pick (No. 23), WR Curtis Samuel
Patriots get: 2020 first-round pick (No. 7)
Panthers get: 2020 first-round pick (No. 21), 2021 first-round pick (Patriots), 2020 third-round pick (No. 87), 2020 third-round pick (No. 98), 2020 fifth-round pick (No. 168), G Joe Thuney, CB Rasul Douglas
Three-way trade alert! This one is admittedly a stretch, but let's have some fun. If New England is enamored with Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and/or Jordan Love as a Tom Brady successor, and if one of those QBs escapes the top five, leapfrogging the Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 9) and Las Vegas Raiders (No. 12) would almost be a must. Here's the team-by-team breakdown, and why it makes sense from all angles:
The Patriots would be taking the biggest risk here, giving up their 2020 and 2021 firsts, as well as two thirds and guard Joe Thuney, in order to get one of this year's top QB prospects. But after losing a six-time Super Bowl champion in Brady, they should be readier than anyone to swing big and get the most important position right. Altogether, it's not even a back-breaking price to pay for a potential franchise talent -- the Eagles help out by throwing in their own mid-rounder, and Thuney could be gone after 2020 anyway.
The Eagles' main motivation here would be swiping a young, contract-year WR from the Panthers, as Samuel could easily become Doug Pederson's gadget weapon alongside whichever other pass catcher they add in the draft. They'd be taking the Patriots' first-rounder in order to give Carolina No. 21, plus giving up Douglas and a fifth-rounder. Altogether, considering pick values, that'd essentially equal out to trading a fourth, a fifth and a CB buried on the depth chart for a 23-year-old speedster. Good deal.
The Panthers, meanwhile, might value their top-10 pick to get a premiere defensive talent, but how could Matt Rhule possibly say no to this kind of package for his slow-burn rebuild? Carolina already added a potential Samuel replacement in Robby Anderson, and it would be getting more than fair value for the No. 7 pick by collecting so much from New England, particularly a 2021 first that conceivably will be much higher than No. 23 after a year without Brady. Douglas and Thuney are just bonuses at positions of need.