How Do NFL Draft Day Trades Go Down? Bill Belichick Pulls Back Curtain On Talks

FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots have 12 selections in the 2019 NFL Draft. The chances of the Patriots actually keeping all of those picks and making selections where they’re currently slotted is zilch. Let’s just say the odds would be off the board.

The Patriots have made 21 trades to move up in the draft since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000. They’ve made 24 trades to move down in the draft and 25 more involving players and/or future considerations. That’s 70 total picks involving draft picks in just 19 drafts, averaging 3.7 per year.

Belichick broke down how the Patriots assess value on those trades Wednesday during his pre-draft news conference. He was asked if the Patriots still use the draft trade value chart put together by Jimmy Johnson in the 1990s.

“I would say that, in general, the trades over the last several years, for the most part, have been, let’s call them within 5 to 10 percent, pretty equitable trades,” Belichick said. “So, for you to have a chart that’s different than the other 31 charts isn’t really that productive because now we’re just arguing about which chart — ‘My chart says this. Your chart says that.’ I’d say officially or unofficially — well, it’s unofficially — but I would say everybody probably uses about the same value chart. I’d say in our draft trade negotiations through the years, especially the last two or three years, there hasn’t been a lot of, ‘My chart says this. Your chart says that.’

“Now 10 or 15 years ago there was some of that. ‘Oh, here’s what we think it should be.’ Well, the other team’s in a different ballpark because they’re looking at a different chart. I would say that when you look at the trades now, over the past few years, a majority of them fall within what we would say is a range of a fair trade. What the going rate would be is what the team gave up and what the team got is about what you would expect them to get, whether it’s our trade or not. I’m just looking league-wide.”

It’s certainly interesting that an unspoken agreement has been made between teams to facilitate draft-day trades.

It also complicates matters when a veteran player is involved in the trade. The Patriots should be looking to acquire a veteran pass catcher during or around the draft since their wide receiver and tight end depth is barren.

“Veteran players, depending on their age, contract situation and level of play — again, we have comparables that we would look at on that, so a starter, rotational player, a backup, a player that has a certain amount of playtime or a player that has a certain amount of production, that there are comparables of those trades, whether it be player-for-player trades or player-for-pick trades,” Belichick said. “And again, certainly there are trades that fall outside of whatever the norm is, but we have norms that we look at it and that’s the norm.

“And you can do better than that, or you probably feel like that’s maybe about as good as you can do, assuming there isn’t an unusual situation — whether it’s a high demand for the player and it’s below that — then you decide whether or not you want to accept maybe a little less than market value for the trade, but you still feel like the trade benefits your team, so you decide to do it. But, yeah, certainly the player-for-player or player-for-pick trades are different than the pick-for-pick trades, but we try to evaluate those, as well. And a lot of it, again, is placed on playtime, production and age and salary because salary is definitely a factor in what the trade value of a player is.”

Thumbnail photo via Paul Rutherford/USA TODAY Sports Images

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