The New England Patriots went bonkers in free agency, signing a number of skill position and defensive players to try and improve on a 7-9 club from 2020 that failed to reach the postseason. While Bill Belichick somewhat addressed the quarterback position by re-signing Cam Newton, the former league MVP -- who turns 32 in May -- is only working on a one-year-deal. Given Newton's age and contract situation, New England is still on the hunt for the heir to Tom Brady's throne over the long haul.
After this spending spree in free agency to address essentially every single one of their needs, it would appear the Pats are a team enamored with the idea of getting a young quarterback at the draft and having him play on an advantageous rookie contract for the next handful of seasons. Rumblings of New England going down that avenue have already started to spread with rumors suggesting that they really like Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. If that proves to be true and the Patriots do have an affinity for Fields or any one of the upper-echelon QBs in this class, they'd almost certainly need to trade up from No. 15 overall.
That brings us to our experiment today. With help from the Rich Hill Draft Value Chart (a new-aged version of the classic Jimmy Johnson draft chart), we're going to take a look at a handful of potential trade partners for the Patriots who are currently above them in the 2021 draft. We'll calculate how much of a haul it may take for New England to rise up and potentially select that future franchise QB. For those unaware of how the chart works, each pick is assigned a value in terms of points. For a trade to be deemed fair, those total points need to be in the ballpark of one another. Simple enough, right?
Of course, we'll quickly slap the top three picks (Jaguars, Jets, Dolphins) out of hand because it's unrealistic to think that Jacksonville will be moving No. 1 overall under any circumstance and New York and Miami likely won't deal within the division. We'll also toss aside a few teams with clear QB needs of their own that likely would be using their high first-rounder to address that themselves.
Atlanta Falcons - No. 4 overall
The Falcons don't feel like a team that is completely ready to give up on the Matt Ryan era just yet and will make a legit push to try to contend with him for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, Atlanta may not be in the mindset to begin developing another first-round quarterback behind Ryan and instead will look to add pieces around their former league MVP, which could open the door for New England to rise up to No. 4.
Getting to that level of the draft would put the Patriots firmly in the mix for Fields, Trey Lance or Mac Jones, but it'll cost them greatly. According to Hill's chart, the No. 4 overall pick has a value of 491 points. Meanwhile, New England's entire draft board rounds in at 565 points.
Of course, Belichick isn't going to throw essentially his entire draft out the window for No. 4 so this could be a scenario where the Pats would need to sweeten the pot by including a player. Two-time All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore is a name that has been heavily involved in trade rumors dating to before the 2020 season and with just one more year remaining on his contract, it wouldn't be a total shock to see New England shop him around instead of shelling out a new deal. The Falcons also ranked in the bottom half of the league in pass defense efficiency in 2020, so adding Gilmore could prove to be a major help to that secondary.
Again, this is a rather lofty price to pay but if New England believes in a specific quarterback prospect you could argue that no price is too high.
Projected trade: New England trades No. 15 overall, No. 96 overall (354 total points), and Gilmore to Atlanta for No. 4 overall.
Cincinnati Bengals - No. 5 overall
The Bengals are set at the quarterback spot after selecting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick last year and are now looking to build around him going forward. While they could elect to draft Oregon tackle Penei Sewell to further put a wall around Burrow or -- as CBS Sports NFL Draft expert Ryan Wilson recently mocked -- give him an explosive weapon in receiver Jaylen Waddle, Cincy could move down to gain more assets to further build its foundation.
Similar to the Falcons deal, moving into the top five would be a heavy price tag for the Patriots. When crunching the numbers against Hill's trade chart, it'd likely require New England to give up its first- and second-round pick to get the conversation off the ground. Those assets get the Patriots to 443 points, which is in spitting distance of the No. 5 pick, which values at 468 points. However, this could be another avenue where adding a player could help the Patriots' chances.
Projected trade: New England trades No. 15 overall, No. 96 overall (354 total points), and receiver N'Keal Harry to Cincinnati for No. 5 overall.
Philadelphia Eagles - No. 6 overall
The Eagles could be a team in the quarterback market at the draft as well but if they are intent on heading into 2021 with Jalen Hurts as the starter, this is another potential trade partner for New England. As we creep down outside of the top five, deals do get a bit more palatable for the Patriots, but could still require the use of a talented veteran to be included in the trade. Philly -- who owns No. 6 overall (446 points) -- could view the potential pairing of corners Darius Slay and Gilmore as a valuable one-two punch in the secondary that helps them contend in an NFC East that boasts a number of top-tier wide receivers (Amari Cooper, Terry McLaurin, Kenny Golladay, etc.). When you attach Gilmore with a few valuable picks, a logical deal does start to fall into place.
Projected trade: New England trades No. 15 overall, No. 122 overall (339 total points), and Gilmore to Philadelphia for No. 6 overall.
Dallas Cowboys - No. 10 overall
It varies on whom you ask but this stage of the draft is likely where Fields is off the board. However, Jones and Lance are to be had. With Dallas inking Dak Prescott to a mega-contract earlier this offseason, the Cowboys are in no need of a quarterback and it could behoove them to move down five spots while gaining more capital. The No. 10 pick has a value of 369 points and the Patriots could get in the ballpark by moving a trio of picks and not surrendering any talent on the roster if they so choose.
Projected trade: New England trades No. 15 overall, No. 96 overall, and No. 139 (371 total points) to Dallas for No. 10 overall.
New York Giants - No. 11 overall
Ideal trade partner for New England if one of these quarterbacks falls out of the top 10. Belichick can call up his old pal Joe Judge to see if there is a deal to be made by moving up just a few spots. New York seems to be building around Daniel Jones so they aren't in the QB market and could look to bolster their crop of picks in Day 2. The No. 11 overall pick has a trade value of 358 points, which isn't too far of a leap for the Patriots to draw even.
Projected trade: New England trades No. 15 overall and No. 96 overall (354 total points) to New York for No. 11 overall.