Fields has been considered the second or third best QB prospect for the better part of a year behind Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and perhaps BYU’s Zach Wilson, who came on late in 2020. After a fantastic performance at his Pro Day, Fields’ stock seemed to escalate even more.
Shortly after the exhibition, some troubling narratives begin to surface about Fields’ work ethic and potential professionalism. We don’t know for sure if potential suitors for the 22-year-old will have their evaluations impacted by these takes, but it’s more data to consider leading up to the 2021 NFL Draft.
NFL Analyst and podcaster and former player Pat McAfee posed an interesting question on his show on Tuesday. What if Patriots head coach and de facto general manager Bill Belichick is behind the negative takes on Fields?
What would his gripe be with Fields? Well, according to the scenario McAfee is considering, there is no gripe. It’s the exact opposite. In McAfee’s grand scheme, Belichick would be hoping to drive down Fields’ value in hopes of having him available when the Patriots draft in the first round.
There is no amount of adoration-fueled sabotage that would get Fields to slide to No. 15. However, with ESPN’s Adam Schefter’s recent report that the Atlanta Falcons are open to trading out of the No. 4 spot, things get very interesting for the Patriots.
With teams locked into the first three overall picks, the Atlanta Falcons now have received trade calls from multiple teams and “are open to moving” out of the No. 4 spot, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 6, 2021
If New England loves Fields over Wilson, Alabama’s Mac Jones, and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance, they would be hoping to see the New York Jets (who will almost certainly be drafting a QB at No. 2 after trading Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers) take Wilson. The San Francisco 49ers, who traded up to No. 3, would likely take Jones or Lance.
If the Patriots are sitting pretty at No. 4, Fields would be there for them to draft. Here is McAfee breaking down the scenario.
— Pat McAfee (@PatMcAfeeShow) April 6, 2021
Conspiracy Theory or Logical Suspicion
When it comes to the Patriots, there is never any shortage of conspiracy theories. Belichick has garnered some villainous, Yoda-like mystique, and there is always this sense that he will emerge from the shadows with a brilliantly evil plan to push New England to another Super Bowl.
— Mark Daniels (@MarkDanielsPJ) April 6, 2021
While we know this often preposterous concept exists, there is some reason to McAfee’s suggestion. It also wouldn’t be the first time something like this has happened.
Famed NFL agent Leigh Steinberg, the inspiration behind the Jerry Maguire movie, told a story about how he helped sabotage his client, Ryan Leaf’s chances of being selected No. 1 overall back in 1998.
Steinberg discussed an excerpt from his book on a 2014 episode of ESPN’s Mike and Mike.
Steinberg didn’t want Leaf to go to the Indianapolis Colts, who had the first overall pick, so he arranged a plan to turn Indy against the idea of drafting the Washington State star. According to Steinberg, the San Diego Chargers, who had the No. 2 pick, knew about his plan and approved it.
They got their wish. Leaf slipped to No. 2, where the Chargers drafted him, and the Colts instead took some guy named Peyton Manning.
Unfortunately, the results of the scheme weren’t favorable for Leaf or the Chargers. Manning became one of the greatest QBs in NFL history, and Leaf is one of the biggest busts.
Still, the concept of manipulating a player’s draft stock has some precedence.
Fields and Cam Newton Would Be a Perfect QB Duo
If the Patriots can find a way to draft Fields, it could be a perfect setup with Cam Newton currently at quarterback. Fields and Newton have history. The latter was on the 2015 NFL MVP’s 7-on-7 team in high school and have remained friendly.
With the Big 10 officially coming back, never forget that Cam Newton @CameronNewton put the football world on notice about Justin Fields @justnfields talent years ago with @ChadSimmons_ pic.twitter.com/uuzFx4Xd55
— Rivals (@Rivals) September 17, 2020
As McAfee’s co-host pointed out, the two also have similar playing styles and are both vegans.
If assembled, there may not be a more cohesive quarterback room in the NFL. Newton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots to theoretically start in 2021 while mentoring Fields, who would be the team’s QB of the future.
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