Proposed Patriots Trade Lands Pro Bowl WR in New England

Robert Kraft

Getty Patriots owner Robert Kraft could see his team trade for Courtland Sutton if DeAndre Hopkins falls through.

If the New England Patriots miss on DeAndre Hopkins, the team could roll with a mile-high “Plan B” with a trade.

Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton proposed that the Patriots trade for Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton in exchange for a second-round draft pick. Sutton, a 2019 Pro Bowler, has been a consistent performer throughout his career.

“If the Patriots strike out with Hopkins, who’s a big-bodied 6-foot-1, 211-pounder, they can turn their focus to Sutton, who’s also a big pass-catching target at 6-foot-4, 216 pounds,” Moton wrote.

“New England may be aggressive in search of a veteran wideout,” Moton added. “In the AFC East, the Patriots need to keep pace with two rivals that made the playoffs last season and the Aaron Rodgers-led New York Jets.”

Hopkins began his visit with the Patriots on Thursday, June 15, amid his free agency tour. While The Athletic’s Jeff Howe reported “optimism” surrounding a potential deal between Hopkins and the Patriots, Moton noted that Hopkins has time on his side to make a decision.

In addition, the Patriots don’t have time on their side amid JuJu Smith-Schuster‘s knee injury as Moton also noted. Smith-Schuster has been dealing with the injury from last season, and he could be behind the eight ball on learning the offense, according to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi.

Denver’s Plans Doesn’t Negate a Patriots Trade

Sutton could step in if the Patriots can lure him away from Denver, which “set a steep price for their two top receivers” as Moton put it. Jerry Jeudy has a four-year, $15 million deal and Sutton has a four-year, $60.8 million deal — both of which sparked speculation of possible moves this offseason.

Mike Klis of 9News reported in March that the Broncos wanted a second-round pick for Sutton or a first-round pick for Jeudy. Moton noted that report “seems to match” ESPN reporter Dan Graziano’s report in April about “high prices” for the receivers.

“Teams are watching to see whether Denver drops its demands for those guys, but as of now neither seems likely to get moved,” Graziano wrote.

With that said, Broncos head coach Sean Payton previously claimed on NFL Network that “we’re not trading those two players“. However, The Athletic’s Nick Kosmider reported in May that the Broncos haven’t “completely” closed the door on a trade, and he noted that Payton normally doesn’t “have one of the highest-paid groups of receivers” in the league.

“Assuming the Broncos stand pat on the compensation for Jeudy and Sutton but remain open to offers, the latter seems like a more realistic trade option because a second-round pick isn’t much for a receiver-needy team in win-now mode,” Moton wrote.

Patriots Really in ‘Win-Now Mode’

New England in ‘win-now mode’ might not mean a seventh Lombardi Trophy, but the Patriots can ill afford a third losing season in four years.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has plenty riding on this season amid no playoff wins since 2019 when the team won its last of six Super Bowls. Owner Robert Kraft has expressed his disappointment this offseason with how the team has performed in recent years, which stoked speculation of Belichick’s future.

It’s also a make-or-break year for third-year Patriots quarterback Mac Jones. His rookie season looked impressive, but his second year didn’t.

How Belichick and Jones do in 2023 could chart the course for the Patriots in the coming years or set back the storied franchise.