Ex-NFL GM Predicts Patriots Will Trade Up To Draft This Quarterback

Would New England really need to trade up for Mac Jones?


February 16, 2021

The New England Patriots have been linked to several quarterbacks expected to be available via free agency or trade.

But former NFL executive Mike Tannenbaum, who in the past served as the New York Jets’ general manager and the Miami Dolphins’ executive vice president of football operations, explained Monday on ESPN’s “Get Up” that he believes Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will focus on the 2021 NFL Draft in finding New England’s next signal-caller.

“Coach Belichick is always going to think long term, and that’s why I think it’s going to be Mac Jones,” Tannenbaum said.

Mike Greenberg floated a few other QB options — including Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota and Jimmy Garoppolo — before turning the floor over to Tannenbaum, who worked for Belichick in the past. But Tannenbaum clearly is sold on Jones, a standout at Alabama who turned heads with a strong showing at the Senior Bowl.

“In my opinion, (Belichick’s) going to have to trade up above Carolina at (No.) 8 to go get Mac Jones,” Tannenbaum said. “(Panthers head coach) Matt Rhule coached Mac Jones … in the Senior Bowl, he loved him. I think the sweet spot to get Mac Jones is (No.) 7.

“I worked for Coach Belichick twice, and one of his many superpowers is he doesn’t care, he’s dispassionate and he’s always gonna think long term. So while the rest of us will think from a human nature standpoint, ‘(Tom) Brady won one (Super Bowl), there’s a sense of urgency,’ he’s always gonna think long term, and Mac Jones gives him the best chance to win over, over again long term and that’s what I think they do.”

The Patriots own the No. 15 pick in the first round. It’s entirely possible they draft Jones, who’s coming off an excellent junior season while leading the Crimson Tide to a national championship. After all, Belichick has drafted plenty of Alabama players in recent years, perhaps due in large to his connection with ‘Bama coach Nick Saban.

But trading up to land Jones seems aggressive. Even if the top four QB prospects — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields and Trey Lance — are off the board by the time Carolina picks at No. 7, let alone when New England is on the clock at No. 15, there still are questions about how Jones’ skill set will translate to the NFL. Jones might slip to the second half of Round 1, if recent mock drafts are any indication.

Not to take anything away from what Jones accomplished in college, but his supporting cast at Alabama was stacked. He had a whole bunch of weapons at his disposal, including Heisman Trophy-winning wide receiver DeVonta Smith. New England, meanwhile, desperately needs to restock its offensive arsenal.

The Patriots have a ton of salary cap space this offseason, opening the door for them to be aggressive on the heels of their first losing season since 2000. It’s unclear what this means for their quarterback search, but there’s no denying it’s the most important question hanging over the franchise one year removed from Brady’s departure.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick
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