Major Trade Proposal Lands the Patriots Top QB Prospect

Getty Bill Belichick

The New England Patriots have to do something about their current quarterback situation. Once free agency begins, the Patriots will only have Jarrett Stidham and Jake Dolegala under contract. Whether it’s bringing back Cam Newton or another option, a major move is coming soon.

According to ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Mel Kiper Jr., the Patriots will trade up to find their quarterback of the future, and his name is Trey Lance. 

In his latest mock draft, Kiper projects the Patriots to trade their 15th overall selection, a 2021 second-round pick, and a 2022 first-rounder to the Denver Broncos for their ninth overall pick. 

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Details of Proposed Trade

NBC Sports Boston tweeted the details:

Here is Kiper’s explanation of his proposed trade that would put the Patriots in a position to take Lance.

One more trade, again for a quarterback. And that makes five QBs in the top nine picks. To move up six spots, we can keep the comp of the Devin Bush trade. The Patriots would have to send the Broncos at least the No. 15 pick, a second-round pick and a 2022 pick. And I wouldn’t be shocked if it took the Pats’ 2022 first-rounder to get the deal over the finish line. New England also is expected to add premium compensatory picks for this class, so it could have more ammo to use. Bill Belichick is known more for trading down in drafts, but the Patriots traded up a couple of times on Day 2 last year to get guys they wanted in Josh Uche and Devin Asiasi. Don’t rule out a big move if Belichick & Co. want to get their quarterback of the future.

As Kiper mentioned, he has all five of the top-rated quarterbacks coming off the board in the first nine selections. This run on signal-callers is what he believes necessitates a move by the Patriots.
For reference, he has Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence landing with the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1.

Kiper sees the Atlanta Falcons trading up to take BYU’s Zach Wilson at No. 2 with the New York Jets taking a handsome package to move down to No. 4, where they still get stud tight end prospect Kyle Pitts.

With another trade, Kiper has the San Francisco 49ers cutting Jimmy Garoppolo loose and moving up to No. 7 in a deal with the Detroit Lions to grab Ohio State’s Justin Fields. In a mild surprise, Kiper likes the Carolina Panthers to draft Alabama’s Mac Jones at No. 8.

Jones has been mocked to the Patriots by multiple outlets. With everyone but Lance off the board, Kiper predicts the Patriots will be aggressive and will turn the deal with the Denver Broncos to take the North Dakota State star.

Here is Kiper’s take on the Patriots drafting Lance.

Belichick and the Patriots have been quiet this offseason, but that should change soon. They have money to spend in free agency, and they need to find a quarterback. It doesn’t appear likely that Cam Newton will return. The veteran QB trade market has dwindled. I could see a Jimmy Garoppolo return to New England, but I’m not sold that he’d be the long-term answer. Lance could be. He started only 17 career games in college — all against FCS competition — but he’s only 20, and he has all the tools to be a great dual-threat quarterback. Remember that the Patriots have a few players returning after opting out of last season, too, so they could contend in the AFC East again.


Poking at the Details

There are a couple of areas of this take that I’d question, though I believe it is a practical prognostication. First, would the Patriots trade up to No. 9 with none of the teams from 10-14 definitively in need of a quarterback? Sure, another team beneath the Patriots in the draft order like the Chicago Bears at No. 20, or the Washington Football Team at No. 19 might be interested in moving up to get Lance, but you wonder if Belichick would want to give up two valuable draft assets for a player who might slip to him.

Secondly, Kiper believes Newton isn’t returning. I’m not sure that the Patriots drafting Lance wouldn’t make re-signing Newton all the more likely.

Lance is just 20 years old. He didn’t play a lick of college football in 2020 and had somewhat limited experience as a small school starter. The chances that he’s ready to step onto the field and start for the Patriots in 2021 seem slim. The Patriots will need a bridge quarterback if they sign Lance, and it would preferably be someone who is a veteran, a strong leader, and a guy who has a history of working well with young players.

After handling a tough 2020 season, critics should never question Newton’s leadership skills again. He’ll be 32 years old during the 2021 season, and he’s been in the league, won an MVP, and played in a Super Bowl during his 10-year career. He’s accomplished more than most quarterbacks, and his history working with young players like Deshaun Watson on his 7-on-7 team speaks to his ability to mentor.

Newton’s relationship with Lance would obviously be different because it’s professional, and the latter could take his job if he falters badly. However, Newton has expressed his desire to return to the Patriots, and it doesn’t seem far-fetched to expect him to be receptive to a modest two-year contract with the understanding that he’s the starter in 2021, but also expected to help groom Lance to be the man in the future.

The Marcus Mariotas and Ryan Fitzpatricks of the world might not be as willing to accept that sort of an offer.

If Lance is viewed as ready in 2022, Newton would be his backup or released or traded for more assets to continue his career elsewhere. If he plays well enough in 2021, he will have raised his value, and shouldn’t have a tough time finding another home. Moreover, the Patriots would be in a position to recover some of the picks (though not as high) they gave up to get Lance.

That sounds like a more probable plan than having the Patriots go into 2021 with Lance, Stidham, and Dolegala as their only options.

 

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