The Patriots didn't want to be left out of the offseason trade party, so they for Los Angeles's first-round pick, No. 23 overall. New England will send a fourth to the Rams and get a sixth in return as well. This move is notable for a bunch of different reasons, not the least of which means the Rams are ending their dabble in the Odell Beckham trade market by virtue of giving up their best draft pick asset in exchange for a No. 1 wideout to replace Sammy Watkins.
There's more fallout from the L.A. side of things, but for the Patriots this answers a couple of of questions, while raising at least one big question about the future of the quarterback position in New England. Let's ask and answer them.
Will the Patriots trade for Odell Beckham?
Nope. This was one of the things that sprang immediately to mind when the Patriots secured a second first-round pick. They owned No. 31 overall as an original pick and now have No. 23. That's two first-round picks for you math majors scoring at home, which is the reported asking price the Giants want in exchange for their talented-but-troubled wide receiver.
However, CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora reports this move does not set up the Patriots to chase after OBJ.
I'm told the Pats trading of Cooks is not a precursor to an attempt to land Beckham. New England won't be in that market— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 3, 2018
The actual details of any Beckham deal are tough anyway, because he basically requires a top-of-the-market deal for a wide receiver sight unseen. The Patriots aren't scared of personalities; Lord knows they had plenty of success with Randy Moss back in 2007. But giving up two first-round picks for Beckham and paying him somewhere in the range of $17M-$20M per year is laying out a lot of capital. The Pats have a price on guys, and it stands to reason that probably exceeds their valuation on Beckham, even as good and as young as the Giants receiver is.
Are the Patriots going to trade Rob Gronkowski now?
Unlikely! In fact, borderline impossible. Adam Schefter of ESPN reports this deal , and that the Pats will move forward with Gronk, Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan as the primary weapons for Tom Brady.
They no longer have the need to negotiate with Cooks on a long-term extension -- 2018 was set to be the final year of his rookie contract, on a fifth-year option -- so it's possible they can take some of that increased financial leeway and give Gronk additional money. It's pretty obvious that the tight end, while he may be interested in retiring sooner than later, mostly wants to get paid.
Brady is going to be back in 2018, barring a very surprising trade, and as such we should expect Gronk to be back with the Patriots as well.
Could the Patriots be thinking about moving up for a quarterback?
Yes. And this is the spicy part of all this. New England gave up Jimmy Garoppolo, who absolutely looks like a franchise quarterback, for the No. 43 overall pick from San Francisco. They already had the No. 31 pick and No. 63 pick as a result of finishing as the Super Bowl XLIX runner up to the Eagles.
Add in the Rams' No. 23 overall pick and New England is cooking with gas on draft day.
Patriots picks in first three rounds:— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) April 3, 2018
1st (23 - 760 trade value points)
1st (31 - 600)
2nd (43 - 470)
2nd (63 - 276)
3rd (95 - 120)
2,226 total points, worth more than 3rd overall pick. Plenty of ammunition to move up if they want to select Tom Brady's eventual replacement.
Now, there's still more to unpack here in terms of questions. But it's very obvious the Patriots are capable of inserting themselves into the quarterback discussion when draft day rolls around.
Who might they be chasing?
Let's take two quarterbacks off the table, for now. This assumes the Giants will not be taking a quarterback (not an entirely safe assumption) and standing pat and taking either Bradley Chubb, Saquon Barkley or Quenton Nelson. For the purposes of this exercise, we will assume the Browns and Jets take Josh Allen and Sam Darnold in some order.
Do not fool yourself into believing the Patriots won't take a quarterback: they took Jimmy G high previously in the 2014 NFL Draft, and it looked like the timing for drafting and developing him was going to work out perfectly with the end of Brady's career. However, Garoppolo was a second-round pick, so he wasn't eligible for a fifth-year option. The franchise tag was too prohibitive and Belichick couldn't keep him around because he would be too expensive and the timeline for Brady's career became too cloudy.
Mayfield to the Patriots is dropping a can of gas into a puddle of kerosene in terms of just trying to fathom the whole thing. Jackson would be throwing a nuclear bomb into a lake of gasoline. Rosen and Rudolph both seem kind of like logical fits, provided Belichick can manage to deal with some millennials.
How high do the Patriots need to jump?
Mayfield and Rosen are, by all accounts, going to cost a top-10 pick at minimum, and probably a top-five pick. If there is legitimate interest from the Patriots, Ravens, Cardinals and Bills as teams who could trade up and interest from the Broncos at No. 5 for the services of a quarterback, John Dorsey can hold a crazy auction for the No. 4 pick. Same for Gettleman at No. 2, if he is inclined to move down out of the top 10. Dorsey already has No. 1 overall; it's a lot easier to move down when you secure your franchise quarterback first overall. at No. 2, but he hasn't shown an inclination to move around a lot in the first round during his time as a GM.
Jackson is probably going to end up going in the top 15 in this draft class because of the interest at the top. Rudolph is someone who could potentially fall to the late first, but it's tough to see him sliding by teams like the Cardinals, Ravens and Chargers -- and the Bills twice if they don't trade up -- and right into the Patriots' lap.
If New England wants Allen/Darnold, Rosen or Mayfield, they need to either trade with the Giants (No. 2, a very expensive proposition), the Browns (No. 4, also expensive but more in the realm of reality, cost-wise) or the Colts (No. 6, a deal that would need to be made on draft day with a quarterback sitting there).
Landing Jackson or Rudolph could likely be done in the mid-teens if the Patriots were so inclined.
It's also entirely possible they kick it at No. 23 and wait to see how the draft plays out, with the idea of taking a quarterback they like later in the draft, perhaps Kyle Lauletta, the.
Would expect the Pats use their late first-round picks on a WR and perhaps QB of the future at this point. Young, cheap assets— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) April 3, 2018
Or maybe Belichick just fell in love with Bradley Chubb at NC State's pro day and was to the Patriots.
The future is wide open and Bill Belichick is on the hunt. The 2018 NFL Draft is going to be off-the-charts fun.