We’ve reached the point where everyone is banging their heads against the wall while trying to figure out how the New England Patriots will approach their quarterback situation and whether Bill Belichick will target a top-tier signal-caller in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Yet, as NFL insider Adam Schefter explained Thursday on ESPN, that could be the path Belichick chooses if a viable alternative doesn’t present itself.
“First and foremost, people forget that Cam Newton is coming off a year in which they went 7-9, in which he didn’t go through the offseason program at all, in which he had COVID, in which they lacked offensive firepower that the team believes it addressed this offseason with the addition of so many offensive weapons,” Schefter said. “So, they believe Cam Newton will get a better, fairer shake this season than he did last season, which I think might reduce some of the urgency. Now, I still think they’re in the quarterback market. If they can get the right guy, at the right price, they certainly would.”
The Patriots currently own the No. 15 pick in the draft. Some analysts have suggested New England should trade up for a quarterback in the first round — as many as five QBs could go in the top 10 — but that would be an unprecedented move for Belichick.
Then again, New England had the luxury of employing Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback in NFL history, for 20 years. Things have changed in Foxboro since his departure last offseason, and so perhaps that’ll persuade Belichick to do something he’s never done before.
“If we look back at Bill Belichick through the years, he’s traded up in the first round four different times,” Schefter said. “Most recently in 2012, when he traded up to go get Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. The other times he traded up: Ty Warren, 2003. Daniel Graham, 2002. He has never — repeat never — traded up for a quarterback in the first round of the NFL draft.
“So, if he did that two weeks from now, that would be the first time that he’s ever done that as the Patriots head coach. And while, again, it’s not out of the question, you heard himself say, essentially, there are only certain players in a certain amount of time they can jump up to go get the quarterback they want.”
Quarterbacks Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson are projected to go first and second overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars and New York Jets, respectively. After that, the San Francisco 49ers are expected to select a QB, as well; it’s just unclear whether they’ll pick Mac Jones, Justin Fields or Trey Lance.
From there, the draft becomes much more unpredictable, with the Patriots’ plan being among the most compelling storylines. We probably shouldn’t rule out New England adding a veteran QB, either, especially with the Jimmy Garoppolo rumors still surfacing every now and then.