No team deals on draft night quite like the New England Patriots.
Since taking over the Patriots in 2000, Bill Belichick has executed a total of 77 trades during the NFL draft. With the 2020 edition set to kick off Thursday night, we took a look back at Belichick’s 10 best (and five worst) in-draft moves.
Note: Only trades that were made during the draft were considered.
1. 2010: Acquired Oakland’s second-round pick (No. 42 overall, TE Rob Gronkowski) in exchange for a second-round pick (No. 44 overall, DT Lamarr Houston) and a sixth-round pick (No. 190 overall, LB Travis Goethel)
The centerpiece of one of Belichick’s best Patriots draft was a two-spot trade-up for a future superstar tight end. They leapfrogged the Baltimore Ravens — the team that had eliminated them in the playoffs the year before — who settled for Ed Dickson in the third round and Dennis Pitta in the fourth.
2. 2009: Acquired Jacksonville’s seventh-round pick (No. 232 overall, WR Julian Edelman) and a 2010 second-round pick (No. 44 overall, DT Lamarr Houston, by Oakland) for a third-round pick (No. 73 overall, CB Derek Cox)
The future second (which later facilitated the Gronkowski trade) was the main draw of this deal, but the seventh-round throw-in turned into the second-best late-round pick of the Belichick era, behind only 2000 sixth-rounder Tom Brady.
3. 2007: Acquired Oakland’s WR Randy Moss in exchange for a fourth-round pick (No. 110 overall, CB John Bowie)
Moss set an NFL record for receiving touchdowns in his first season in New England. Bowie appeared in five NFL games.
4. 2003: Acquired Baltimore’s second-round pick (No. 41 overall, TE Bennie Joppru, by Houston) and a 2004 first-round pick (No. 21 overall, DT Vince Wilfork) in exchange for a first-round pick (No. 19 overall, QB Kyle Boller)
By allowing the Ravens to climb the board for Boller, the Patriots were able to land one of the top defensive tackles in franchise history the following year. They also included the 41st overall pick in a subsequent trade that landed them productive safety Eugene Wilson (36th overall, 2003).
5. 2007: Acquired San Francisco’s 2008 first-round pick (No. 7 overall, DT Sedrick Ellis, by New Orleans) and a fourth-round pick (No. 110 overall, CB John Bowie, by Oakland) in exchange for a first-round pick (No. 28 overall, OT Joe Staley)
Looks one-sided on paper, huh, with the Niners landing a franchise left tackle in Staley? Not so. The Patriots used that future first-rounder to trade down and select linebacker Jerod Mayo at No. 10 overall in 2008 (and add a third-round pick they used on bust Shawn Crable). The fourth they received gave them the ammunition to swing the Moss trade.
6. 2002: Acquired Buffalo’s 2003 first-round pick (No. 14 overall, DE Michael Haynes, by Chicago) in exchange for QB Drew Bledsoe
This trade allowed the Patriots to cash in on their quarterback surplus — Brady had just won his first Super Bowl — and it facilitated a subsequent move for Ty Warren, whom the Patriots traded up to draft 13th overall in 2003 (sending pick No. 14 and a sixth-rounder to Chicago). Warren isn’t remembered as fondly as Wilfork or Richard Seymour is, but he was a beast on the interior for New England, starting 92 games over seven seasons.
7. 2012: Acquired Denver’s first-round pick (No. 25 overall, LB Dont’a Hightower) in exchange for a first-round pick (No. 31 overall, RB Doug Martin, by Tampa Bay) and a fourth-round pick (No. 126 overall, DE Jared Crick, by Houston)
The Patriots traded up twice in the first round in 2012, moving up six spots on two occasions to draft edge rusher Chandler Jones and Hightower. Both immediately became staples in New England’s defense.
8. 2012: Acquired Cincinnati’s first-round pick (No. 21 overall, DE Chandler Jones) in exchange for a first-round pick (No. 27 overall, G Kevin Zeitler) and a third-round pick (No. 93 overall, DT Brandon Thompson)
See above. Armed with a late-first rounder it acquired in 2011 trade with the New Orleans Saints, New England jumped up a half-dozen spots to land one of the top pass rushers in the 2012 draft.
9. 2013: Acquired Minnesota’s second-round pick (No. 52 overall, LB Jamie Collins), a third-round pick (No. 83 overall, CB Logan Ryan), a fourth-round pick (No. 102 overall, WR Josh Boyce) and a seventh-round pick (No. 229 overall, DT Everett Dawkins, by Tampa Bay) in exchange for a first-round pick (No. 29 overall, WR/KR Cordarrelle Patterson)
The Vikings badly wanted Patterson in 2013, so they sent a haul to New England for its first-round pick. The Patriots came away with two defensive starters (Collins and Ryan) and wound up acquiring Patterson anyway five years later. His versatility proved valuable for the 2018 team that won Super Bowl LIII.
10. 2018: Acquired San Francisco’s OT Trent Brown and a fifth-round pick (No. 143 overall, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley) in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 95 overall, S Tarvarius Moore)
Brown only spent one season with the Patriots, but he started every game at left tackle for the Super Bowl LIII team. Bentley’s career has been uneven thus far, but he’s shown promise and should take on a larger role in 2020 with Collins and Elandon Roberts now gone. The 2013 LeGarrette Blount trade (a seventh-rounder and Jeff Demps for Blount) warrants an honorable mention.
1. 2006: Acquired Green Bay’s second-round pick (No. 36 overall, WR Chad Jackson) in exchange for a second-round pick (No. 52 overall, WR Greg Jennings) and a third-round pick (No. 75 overall, C Jason Spitz)
The Patriots actually traded up 16 spots to select one of their most notable draft busts. Jackson caught a grand total of 13 passes in a New England uniform. The fact that Jennings turned into a Pro Bowler for Green Bay didn’t help.
2. 2009: Acquired Oakland’s second-round pick (No. 40 overall, DL Ron Brace) in exchange for a second-round pick (No. 47 overall, S Michael Mitchell), a fourth-round pick (No. 124 overall, WR Louis Murphy) and a sixth-round pick (No. 199 overall, DE Stryker Sulak)
New England paid a steep price to move up seven spots for Brace — far too steep. The Springfield, Mass., native and Boston College product was a bit player in his four seasons with the Patriots and was out of the league by 2013.
3. 2018: Acquired Tampa Bay’s second-round pick (No. 56 overall, CB Duke Dawson) in exchange for a second-round pick (No. 63 overall, CB Carlton Davis) and a fourth-round pick (No. 117 overall, S Jordan Whitehead)
Another ill-advised trade-up in 2018 yielded Dawson, who never played a snap for New England and was traded before his second season. He’s the only first- or second-round draft pick of the Belichick era not to appear in single a regular-season game for the Patriots.
4. 2017: Acquired Detroit’s third-round pick (No. 85 overall, OT Tony Garcia) in exchange for a third-round pick (No. 96 overall, WR Kenny Golladay) and a fourth-round pick (No. 124 overall, LB Jalen Reeves-Maybin)
Old buddy Matt Patricia made out like a bandit in this one. Garcia was cut by the Patriots after one year and has yet to appear in an NFL game. Golladay is one of the game’s best young wideouts, surpassing 1,000 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons.
5. 2017: Acquired Kansas City’s TE James O’Shaughnessy and a sixth-round pick (No. 216 overall, CB Marquez White, by Dallas) in exchange for a fifth-round pick (No. 183 overall, LB Ukeme Eligwe)
The Patriots didn’t give up much in this trade, but they misjudged O’Shaughnessy, who failed to make their 53-man roster. New England’s other in-draft player acquisitions (Moss, Brown and Blount) all were hits.