Bill Belichick’s busy offseason is going to continue well into April.
According to The Athletic’s Jeff Howe, New England is still “committed to exhausting” every option at quarterback this offseason, either by drafting a quarterback in the 2021 NFL Draft or by trading for a veteran passer.
The catch in drafting: San Francisco’s blockbuster trade up to No. 3 overall complicates the situation, with speculation believing that three quarterbacks could go in the top three of this year’s NFL Draft. There could be five QBs taken in the first round — and all five could be taken in the top 10.
That complicates things for New England, which sits at No. 15 in the draft. In order to take a top-caliber prospect, they’ll likely have to move up. How far up is the biggest question: the Falcons (No. 4), Panthers (No. 7) and Broncos (No. 9) all are in the quarterback market, and could conceivably take a quarterback this year.
Atlanta’s selection at No. 4 is particularly intriguing. While there’s little expectation that the Falcons would trade out of No. 4 pick to divisional rival Carolina, that still leaves a lot of teams for New England to jump, and it would come at a hefty cost.
Howe also mentioned that Jimmy Garoppolo could be a trade target for New England. The Patriots shipped Jimmy G to San Francisco in 2017 after many pegged Garoppolo to be Brady’s heir apparent in New England. Trade rumors have surrounded Garoppolo, though reports indicate San Francisco has no intentions of trading him.
New England targeting a quarterback makes sense: Cam Newton, while productive on the ground in 2020, had a less-than-good season passing the ball and Belichick will likely be looking for a quarterback of the future either to compete with Newton or to hand the reins over to in 2022.
The Patriots did a lot to help accentuate Newton’s skillset this offseason — signing tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to big-time deals, strengthening the mid-range passing attack. But the additions New England made will help any passer that comes in, veteran or drafted.