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History Says a Patriots Trade Up in Round 1 Unlikely

The New England Patriots could use a franchise quarterback, but they likely would have to set a precedent to get one in the 2021 draft

As media members analyze the New England Patriots quarterback situation, one possibility that has been brought up is for the team to trade up in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft to put itself in position to select one.

It would be a bold move, no doubt, especially given the price the San Francisco 49ers paid the Miami Dolphins — three first-round picks and a third-round selection — to acquire the third overall pick this year.

RELATED: What Would a Patriots Trade Up in Round 1 Look Like?

It also would be the kind of move Bill Belichick simply doesn't make.

That's what history tells us.

Since Belichick took over as Patriots head coach in 2000, the team has made 14 trades involving a move up or down in the first round, and not one of them has seen New England move into the top 10.

That's likely what it would take for the Patriots to land one of the top five quarterback prospects in the 2021 draft — Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance, Justin Fields or Mac Jones.

The highest the Patriots have traded up for a pick in the first round during the Belichick era was the 13th pick when they moved up from 14th in 2003 to select defensive tackle Ty Warren.

That actually was the only time since 2000 the Patriots traded up for a first-round pick in the top half of the round.

The other trade-ups in the first round in the Belichick era:

2012: The Pats traded picks 27 and 93 for pick 21 and took Chandler Jones, then traded picks 31 and 126 for pick 25 and took Dont'a Hightower.

2002: The Patriots traded picks 32, 96 and 234 for pick 21 and selected tight end Daniel Graham.

It's been a lot more common in the Belichick era for the Patriots to trade down or even out of the first round, which is what they did last year when they sent the 23rd overall pick to the Los Angeles Chargers for picks in the second and third rounds. New England selected safety Kyle Dugger with the second-round pick and used the third-rounder in a trade with Baltimore involving draft picks.

The last time the Patriots traded up in the first round to land a pick in the top 10 was all the way back in 1984 and they moved up for the first overall pick.

New England gave the Cincinnati Bengals two first-round picks (16th and 28th) along with a 10th-round pick and a 1985 fifth-round selection for the chance to select wide receiver Irving Fryar.


2002 — Traded Up: picks 32, 96 and 234 for pick 21 and selected TE Daniel Graham

2003 — Traded Up: picks 14 and 193 for pick 13 and selected DT Ty Warren

2003 — Traded Down: pick 19 for pick 41 and a 2004 1st-round pick

2007 — Traded Down: pick 28 for pick 110 and a 2008 1st-round pick

2008 — Traded Down: picks 7 and 164 for picks 10 and 78

2009 — Traded Down: pick 23 for picks 26 and 162

2009 — Traded Down: picks 26 and 162 for picks 41, 73 and 83

2010 — Traded Down: pick 22 for picks 24 and 113

2010 — Traded Down: picks 24 and 119 for picks 27 and 90

2011 — Traded Down: pick 28 for pick 56 and a 2012 first-round pick

2012 — Traded Up: picks 27 and 93 for pick 21 and selected LB Chandler Jones

2012 — Traded Up: picks 31 and 126 for pick 25 and selected LB Dont'a Hightower

2013 — Traded Down: pick 29 for picks 52, 83, 102 and 229

2020 — Traded Down: pick 23 for picks 37 and 71