Proposed Blockbuster Trade Named Patriots’ Biggest ‘What If’ Moment

New England Patriots

Getty New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick

The jury will remain out for a while on if the New England Patriots should have followed suit with a rumored Mac Jones trade during the NFL Draft.

Bleacher Report’s Alex Ballentine named the proposed Jones trade for the No. 2 pick as one of “seven moves we wish would have happened” this offseason. Unless the Patriots thrive with Jones under center, the question of “what if” could arise regarding the rumored trade if the Patriots falter instead.

The rumored “parameters of trade” between the Patriots and Houston Texans, which had the No. 2 pick, surfaced on Reddit days before the draft. It gained enough steam for 98.5 The Sports Hub to analyze it, and more Jones trade speculation increased as the draft drew closer.

“A deal that would have sent Jones to Houston and brought back a high draft pick would have been interesting for both franchises,” Ballentine wrote. “The Patriots offense took a step back last season. Jones went from going 10-7 as the starter with a QBR of 50.9 as a rookie to a 6-8 record and a QBR of 36.2.”

“Sending Jones to Houston would have been a fresh start in a quarterback friendly system with Kyle Shanahan disciple Bobby Slowik at offensive coordinator,” Ballentine added. “For Belichick, it would have been the chance to start over with a blue-chip quarterback prospect in C.J. Stroud.”

Ultimately, the Patriots kept Jones and didn’t draft any quarterback. New England signed undrafted free agent Malik Cunningham, who could end up playing a different position.

Belichick, during the draft, emphasized that Jones has been the quarterback for the past two seasons and will get a shot this fall. New offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, who also spoke during the draft, alluded to competition between Jones and backup Bailey Zappe — a standard for any position with the team, O’Brien said.

Will Levis’ Visit With Patriots Stoked Trade Rumors

Ballentine noted that former Kentucky quarterback Will Levis, who visited the Patriots shortly before the draft, became a rumored No. 1 pick via a post on Reddit. Levis’ visit with New England likewise turned heads before the Reddit rumor.

“Before that rumor caught fire, there was another post that drew the attention of fans and some media, including a segment on ‘The Pat McAfee Show,'” Ballentine wrote. “A Reddit user claiming to have connections to a former director of player personnel for Alabama wrote that the Patriots had the parameters for a trade with the Houston Texans that would send the No. 14 pick, a 2023 fourth-round pick, a 2024 first-round pick and Mac Jones for the No. 2 pick.”

“This is the kind of ‘friend of a friend’ rumor that is easy to dismiss from the jump, but it does propose an interesting concept that connects with some more substantial buzz that Bill Belichick did shop Jones this offseason, per Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk,” Ballentine wrote.

Jakobi Meyers Signing Also a Big ‘What If’

Ballentine also speculated on former Patriots wide receiver Jakobi Meyers signing elsewhere instead of the Las Vegas Raiders.

Instead, Ballentine floated the Carolina Panthers as an alternative “what if” destination because the team didn’t land a true No. 1 receiver. The Panthers signed former Minnesota Vikings star Adam Thielen, who had a down year in 2022.

“Instead, it would have been nice to see the Panthers make a move for Jakobi Meyers in free agency,” Ballentine wrote. “Like Thielen, he is a solid slot receiver, and he led the New England Patriots in receiving in each of the last three seasons.”