The 2017 NFL Draft begins Thursday, April 27. As it currently stands, the New England Patriots won’t make their first selection until late Friday night.
After swinging trades for former Indianapolis Colts tight end Dwayne Allen, former Carolina Panthers defensive end Kony Ealy and former New Orleans Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks within one three-day span last week, the Patriots were left with exactly zero picks in the first two rounds of this year’s draft.
Here were the terms of those three deals:
— Patriots send a fourth-round pick (No. 137) to Indianapolis for Allen and a sixth-round pick (No. 200)
— Patriots send a second-round pick (No. 64) to Carolina for Ealy and a third-round pick (No. 72)
— Patriots send a first-round pick (No. 32) and a third-round pick (No. 103) to New Orleans for Cooks and a fourth-round pick (No. 118)
The highest pick New England currently owns is the 72nd overall selection it acquired in the Ealy trade. The longest the Patriots ever have had to wait to make their first selection? No. 60, which they used to draft cornerback Cyrus Jones last year after the NFL docked them their first-round pick as punishment for Deflategate.
Will the Patriots be content with watching Rounds 1 and 2 from the sideline? That seems unlikely, especially given the current situation involving cornerback Malcolm Butler.
Butler has yet to sign the first-round tender the Patriots placed on him last week — a one-year contract that would pay him $3.91 million in 2017. His reported unhappiness with that number is understandable, as newly signed Patriots corner Stephon Gilmore is set to make $13 million this season.
Any team can sign Butler away from New England, but it would have to 1) offer him a big-money contract the Patriots would not be willing to match and 2) fork over a first-round pick to the Pats. Another potential outcome involves New England trading Butler for a first-round pick, with the stipulation he must first agree to sign his tender.
The Patriots also could move way up in the draft by agreeing to deal backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. Garoppolo remains highly sought-after by QB-needy teams like the Cleveland Browns, who reportedly would be willing to part ways with the 12th overall pick in exchange for the 25-year-old signal-caller.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and others have reported the Patriots aren’t willing to trade Tom Brady’s understudy. But the draft is more than six weeks away. There’s plenty of time for that to change.
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