If, as SI’s Albert Breer reported, there’s already groundwork for the Patriots and Carolina to make a trade that lands New England the No. 8 spot in this weeks’ NFL Draft, Pats coach Bill Belichick should probably do it for the right price and take out any possibility he doesn’t get his man.
However, the Panthers lessened the pressure on the Pats to trade up Wednesday with their trade of Teddy Bridgewater to Denver for a sixth-round draft pick. There are suddenly fewer teams that want a quarterback between the top three picks and the Pats at No. 15.
Now, after the Carolina-Denver trade was announced, ESPN’s Adam Schefter tweeted that the Broncos would remain in the quarterback market with the No. 9 pick in Thursday’s first round. He might also have a bridge to sell you.
Obviously, nothing can ever be ruled out, but it’s unlikely the Broncos are planning on having a quarterback room with Bridgewater, Drew Lock and a quarterback they pick in the top 10 when a 5-11 team definitely has needs at many other areas.
Common sense says the Broncos are out of the quarterback mix, and that could be a boon to the Patriots’ chances at landing Alabama’s Mac Jones, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State's Trey Lance.
Unlike the Broncos, the Panthers might still be looking to draft a quarterback to compete with Sam Darnold, especially with Bridgewater out of the picture. That means between San Francisco at No. 3 and the Pats at No. 15 you have just two teams that might be hunting for a quarterback — Atlanta at No. 4 and Carolina at No. 8.
The Falcons reportedly have been leaning more toward Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, with only a small thought toward picking Matt Ryan’s heir apparent. Even if Carolina grabs a quarterback, if Denver has actually ended its pursuit, that leaves Dallas, the New York Giants, Philadelphia, the Los Angeles Chargers and Minnesota in the 10-14 slots. The Pats might be able to get their quarterback and not expend any assets to move up.
Of course, they have to be wary of a team picking after them jumping the line. Washington, which is scheduled to pick 19th, has been rumored as a trade-up possibility. Surprisingly, though, a draft that’s rich in high-end quarterbacks falls at a time when the teams most desperate for quarterbacks are at the very top of the draft, and there aren’t a lot of other teams in a similar quarterback-hungry position as the Pats.
If New England gets the quarterback it wants, whether it trades up or stays at No. 15, it might have Carolina to thank for taking Denver out of the equation.