Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots always seem to be on the cutting edge of what’s trending in the NFL, and the team’s latest trade might be the latest example.
The Patriots recently dealt wide receiver Brandin Cooks to the Los Angeles Rams for a first-round pick (23rd overall) and a sixth-round selection (198th overall) in the upcoming draft. This deal helps the Rams land a proven go-to target for third-year quarterback Jared Goff, but could have larger implications for the Pats, and possibly a thrifty team picking early enough in the draft.
New England now has two first-round (23rd, 31st) and two second-round (43rd, 63rd) picks in the upcoming draft. And, as ESPN’s Adam Schefter suggests, the team is now well-positioned to move up to pick a quarterback if there is one the team likes and if the powers that be in New England can find a willing trade partner. Tom Brady isn’t going to play forever and Patriots owner Robert Kraft told reporters last week that “obviously” the team would need to start its search for Brady’s replacement “at some point.”
For the Patriots, that point could be the 2018 NFL Draft, and a team possibly willing to make a deal could be the Chicago Bears. We have already discussed the idea of the team trading down with the New Orleans Saints, who are in a similar boat with the Patriots in that they also have an elite quarterback whose playing days are numbered. However, New England is in a much better place to make a deal because of the draft capital it owns. Remember, New Orleans doesn’t have a second-round pick in 2018 and their first-round pick is 27th overall.
The entry of another team in the quarterback derby could help the Bears, who are openly rooting for a run on quarterbacks before they are on the clock with the No. 8 pick. New England’s emergence as a dark-horse candidate to trade up for a quarterback might be enough to create some additional movement from a quarterback-needy team picking ahead of the Bears, or push the Buffalo Bills (a Patriots division rival) to step their game up in trade talks.
In any case, the draft instantly became more interesting when a team known for trading out of the first round has changed course and bought in.