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Replay: Patriots Unfiltered Tue Apr 16 - 02:00 PM | Wed Apr 17 - 09:55 AM

Patriots Mailbag: Should the Patriots trade down?

Lots of draft talk in the week's mailbag with the possibility of trading down heating up.


Do you think Pats will sign a starting caliber left tackle or draft one up high and have him start?
Ed Tumanov

This seems like a simple yes/no question but it's actually a bit more nuanced than that. The phrase "starting caliber" can mean different things to different people. Just because a player starts doesn't mean he is starting caliber, like last year when players like Vederian Lowe and Conor McDermott struggled as starters at tackle. I think at this point we will see the Patriots add a tackle in the draft, and if one is added through free agency it will not be a player that most believe is starting caliber. I think at this stage there are really only backups and injured players left on the market so it's hard to say any signing at this point could be relied upon to fill the void.

I feel like history is repeating itself. I hope the new quarterback sits for a while. Whatever makes sense but I feel like not improving the line with a stop gap is a major mistake. Mac Jones was by no means a starter but they ruined his confidence. We can't afford that again. Also disappointed they didn't get one young star that would be a part of the next great Patriots team. Why not one of the free safeties or edge players?
Peter Gallasso

I agree about not finding a veteran tackle to play this season was a mistake. Either Jonah Williams or Tyron Smith would have made sense. Now it will likely be up to the draft to find a replacement. I also agree about the disappointment of not signing any top-tier free agent to potentially be part of the future. I'm not suggesting the Patriots should have been super aggressive and signed a bunch of high-priced guys, but I would have been happy had they landed Calvin Ridley, or if they pursued someone like Christian Wilkins. Target one or two big-money guys and see if you can improve the roster that way. I do like some of the moves they have made, like keeping Mike Onwenu, but I felt there were opportunities to do more without having to rely almost exclusively on the draft.

So far, I'm not that impressed with the new regime. I think they've made two beginner mistakes: 1) misread the safeties market, there was no need to tag Kyle Dugger, there are several talented safeties available for much less. 2) should have tagged Mike Onwenu given the tackle market, why risk losing him (note: things worked out, but seemed like a unnecessary risk), tag him and try to negotiate a long term deal. And 3) today we learned Justin Fields was traded for a conditional 6th round pick - WOW. I wish the Pats had picked him up (he's still under control for two years), for a 6th round pick (we have two), and then tried to trade the No. 3 pick for lots of assets. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a Justin Fields is the second coming guy, but I think he's shown potential and with stable coaching could be good. Also he has experience in playing in bad weather. Pairing him with Jacoby Brissett could have been an interesting plan. To be fair retaining their key FAs was good.
Mark Wright

I actually think they read the safety market pretty well and saved some money by using the transition tag instead of the franchise tag. Lots of veterans available at the position now but that doesn't mean Dugger wouldn't have been a target for someone. Now, I don't like using the tags in the first place because they tend to annoy the players and I'd rather have re-signed him to a deal if they wanted to retain him. As for Onwenu, they also saved money by not using the tag and lowering his average annual value as a result. You criticized the team for not properly reading the market with regard to Dugger (and you may be right on that) but why not credit them for doing so with Onwenu. They likely felt they were pretty close to a deal when free agency began and didn't think there was much risk. They were right. For Justin Fields, the first thing to keep in mind is he only has one year left unless you pick up his fifth-year option. The second thing is the compensation. Pittsburgh sent a conditional sixth, which can become a fourth. So, if the Patriots made the same move and planned on playing him, the price would have been a fourth-round pick. If you don't like any of the rookie quarterbacks who figure to be available at No. 3, then the Fields trade would have made sense. I like both Jayden Daniels and Drake Maye so I wouldn't have made the Fields trade.

Do you think the Patriots will have interest in recently released left tackle D.J. Humpries from Arizona? He's been a starter ever since he was drafted in the first round, a captain, and he is only 30 years old? I know he is coming off an ACL injury however he could be a great bridge LT while you develop left tackles in the draft.
Jeff Hurlich

Humphries is a solid player but he is getting up there in age at 30 and tore his ACL in Week 17 last season. Being injured so late probably takes him out of the offseason program and even if he's ready to go at the start of the season that's not an ideal situation for a team looking for stability up front. I would definitely be interested, though. Humphries could provide a quality option at a spot where there are no sure things. It looks like Onwenu is going to play tackle, so finding a solution on the left side is still a priority. I would be interested in taking a long look at him, as well as drafting one early in Day 2.

Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo.
Patriots head coach Jerod Mayo.

Am I the only one wondering what the hell Eliot Wolf and Jerod Mayo are waiting for? The lack of moves is no different than Bill Belichick running things. We need to overpay for some talent because there's nothing here to make a talented player want to come other than money, and then we sit around and watch Justin Fields get traded for a sixth- round pick and we don't jump all over that. I would rather give a fourth- or fifth-round pick for him than overpaying Brissett $8 million for one year. 2024 isn't looking promising.
Stacy Hanson

I just went over my feelings on the Fields trade. I like the idea of taking either Daniels or Maye so I'm fine not taking a chance on Fields figuring things out in New England. I am intrigued by his talent, but I'd rather see if one of the rookies can be the answer in the future. Clearly the new regime has focused on keeping some of their players and trying to establish a quality culture in the locker room. That won't be easy to do and it will be frustrating, especially at first, as the team likely continues to struggle. But I'm willing to give the new guys some time to find the style and players they want to move forward with. But I do agree that there is a need for a higher level of talent on the roster.

I can't help but feel a little disappointed. A fourth-rounder for Kennan Allen (need a No. 1 receiver), a sixth-rounder for Justin Fields (need a QB)? A third overall pick that could have been used to trade down and draft a couple of needed lineman. Really think these moves could have made them relevant. What are they doing. Haven't really seen what I thought I was going to entering free agency. Again think these would have made us competitive. What are your thoughts. Please help me understand the current moves. Can we expect something bigger?
Eric Hanson

Clearly many fans are not happy with the direction the team has taken in free agency thus far. I honestly don't really understand the venom about the Fields trade. If you wanted him to play for the Patriots it would have cost more than a sixth-round pick, as the Steelers will have to give a fourth if he sees more than 51 percent of the snaps. I'd rather have a rookie quarterback and start rebuilding for the future. I don't believe Fields with a couple of linemen and maybe even a wide receiver taken in the draft would make the Patriots a contender. I feel the team is much further away from getting to that level than adding a failed quarterback and a couple of rookies. Rebuilds take time and Jerod Mayo is just getting started.

Would you agree with me Paul that rebuilding a franchise takes time and faith and when you look at the history books they tell us that just like Bill Walsh required in San Francisco the entire New England staff will need time to allow their seed of an idea to grow into a complete reality?
Marc Saez

Absolutely. Rebuilding usually takes some time and it doesn't happen overnight. However, turning things around in the NFL can happen quickly as well. Houston went from one of the worst teams in football to a solid playoff team that actually advanced in the postseason. There's no secret as to how that happened as C.J. Stroud enjoyed a fantastic rookie season at quarterback. If Mayo & Co. are similarly fortunate enough to identify and select the right quarterback, the Patriots rebuilding process will be accelerated as well. That's a big if, however. Usually, rebuilding a team takes a couple of seasons of quality drafting coupled with strong work in free agency. We'll see how Mayo and Wolf fare in that regard before too long.

With the signing of Jacoby Brissett should we zig when others zag by taking the best player available at three and pick up a quarterback later in draft? Brissett is very able to lead a year while a development QB (take your pick) sits and learns?
Karol Hannon

This is all dependent upon how Mayo and Wolf view the quarterbacks that will be available at No. 3. If they are sold on Maye, they must take him. If they're not, then options open up. They could trade down and try to add more picks or they could stay at 3 and take Marvin Harrison, Malik Nabers, Joe Alt or whoever they feel would best fit a need. Brissett is a stopgap and has not proven to be good enough to lead a winning team. If the Patriots pick a quarterback in the later rounds he would not be considered the guy for the future. If a third- or fourth-round pick ultimately pans out at that position, that would represent an outlier. It's hard to rely on something like that to work out, however.

As I write this on Saturday afternoon the Pats have not added much to the O-Line after the problems last year. The Jets just signed the best free agent. At this point most of this need has to come in the draft. Also, it has been nice to see them retaining many keys from last year's defense. But no big difference makers for offense. That also leaves a lot to the draft. At this point I hope they build a good O-Line and get some tools for Jacoby Brissett and look to the future for a quarterback. This way a new one comes into a better system where he can win. My question is it crazy to draft a young quarterback and expect him to learn with questionable tools and protection?
David Fogg

I'm going to change the question around and ask a different version. Is it crazy to pass on a talented quarterback that you believe in because you don't think the team around him is good enough? The answer to that question is a resounding yes. Take Houston last season as an example. Would you pass on C.J. Stroud because the Texans weren't a very good team? Of course not. If you get a chance to take a quarterback who you feel has the potential to be a franchise guy you have to take him when that opportunity exists. Then you need to do everything you can to make the situation around him as solid as possible. Yes the offensive line needs to be improved and yes the receivers need more playmakers. But without the quarterback it's hard to evaluate everything else. If you believe in the quarterback, you take him.

What's going on with the front office in New England. We were supposed to upgrade talent from what I have seen we have signed a few of our own which I agree with Henry, Bourne and Onwenu. As we watch receivers like Keenan Allen traded for a fourth and Deonte Johnson traded. Plus and we are just sitting on our hands. Do you think we have screwed ourselves for this season. And how long of leash will kraft give our front office.
Marc Schmitz

Another variation of the same question we've received a number of times already. As I've said, I get it. The Patriots haven't signed many players who figure to impact the team in a significant way this season. But they have added players like Antonio Gibson, Austin Hooper and K.J. Osborn who should help add depth to some areas that needed it. And by re-signing a lot of their own players I feel that Mayo and Wolf believe those guys will help in the locker room and add some culture as they try to rebuild things. It won't happen all at once and I feel many people are wondering about the 2024 season specifically. This is about much more than just this season and the draft will hopefully yield some players who should be able to help beyond that

If they take Marvin Harrison Jr. at 3 is there any chance of Dillon Gabriel in the second round? Or is he on their radar at all?
Russell Doe

To be honest I'm not sure Gabriel will be drafted at all let alone in the second round. He's 5-11 and doesn't possess an overly strong or accurate arm. He has shown some ability in a spread offense to move around and make plays, but not anywhere near consistently enough where he projects to have that ability at the NFL level. Gabriel at best figures to be a Day 3 pick and represents little more than a developmental prospect.

I'm sitting in 80-degree heat in Mexico yet can hear the gnashing of teeth and the not too manly sobs emanating from fans upset that we didn't waste money on over 30-year-old players and those with big question marks about their game. Who really wants players like Juju, Agholor and yes Ridley too? The Pats will not be ultra-competitive until 2026 and that is contingent on how well they draft the next two years and what they do with the massive amount of cap space they have in next year's free agency. It appears it will be an historical amount with this year's rollover and next year's cap increase. Why should people be upset that the Pats didn't get old geezers that won't be around when the real victory train will start rolling?
David Brown

Just out of curiosity how many years in a row are we going to use the massive cap space argument to feel good about the future? What good is cap space if you don't sign quality players with that money? And Ridley is 29, not over 30 as you stated. The Patriots certainly wanted him or they wouldn't have made a big-money offer to get him. Let's not make it out to be a good thing that Mayo and Wolf were unable to get that signing done. It's a player they wanted and in reality it's a player they really needed. Banking success on future cap space is not the best way to prepare for future success. The Patriots need to find some improvements to the roster now, next year and in the ensuing years as well. That's how you rebuild. You don't do it but accumulating cap space. You need to use some of those resources in order to improve the team.

The draft is a crap shoot. When was the last time the Patriots drafted a wide receiver who was any good? How many first-round QBs have been a bust? Free agents have a history and they have accomplished something. To go cheap and do nothing but sign backups is a slap in the face to us long-time fans and season ticket holders.Walter Opanasets

Well this is sort of the opposite of the last post. Spend the money and find players. Like I said above, it's not as simple as just doing one thing if you're not doing the other. How many first-round quarterbacks are busts? No more so than any other position, but just to play along I'd say it depends on the year. If we're using 2021, then four of the five chosen in the first-round were busts. If we go by the year before, 2020, then all four first-round picks worked out very well for their teams. You need to be able to identify talent, regardless of position, and make the best choices for your team. The Patriots need to draft better than they have in recent years, and yes, they also need to spend some of that cap space (as I said above) to find quality free agents who can plug in and improve the roster. Lots of options and the Patriots need to explore as many as possible.

Count me as one who is happy about not signing Calvin Ridley. Too much money for what should be a No. 2/3 receiver. Just because he's the best WR available, doesn't mean he should be your guy. The draft is loaded with potential number 1 wide receivers. I'd rather take my chances there for a lot less money. Since it is nearly a forgone conclusion the Pats will take a QB at 3, who do you like at 34 who will likely be available with that pick?
Todd Pickering

As I said above I disagree with the notion that not getting a player you targeted in free agency is a good thing. I also think Ridley is much better than a third receiver and at worst would represent one of the best No. 2 options in the league and is very much talented enough to be considered a top wideout. Ridley has been productive and is a young 29 after missing a year and a half due to his suspension. He would immediately push everyone else down the depth chart and create space for them as he would occupy some additional attention from opponents in coverage. It's not the end of the world that Ridley chose Tennessee but let's not pretend that Mayo and Wolf were foolish for targeting him. He's a very good player who's contract will look pedestrian after wideouts like Ja'Marr Chase, CeeDee Lamb, Brandon Aiyuk and Justin Jefferson sign their extensions. Ridley was the latest to sign, and while he's not as good as the ones I mentioned he's a very talented receiver in his own right.

With a decent veteran QB in Jacoby Brissett on board, might it make sense to trade down, getting a lower first-round pick plus a second- and either a third this year or a second next year, and then draft someone like J.J. McCarthy or Bo Nix, both of whom should still be around later in the first round, or draft the best available other than a QB, and then take Michael Penix, who will probably be on the board at 34? Immediate readiness is, I think, now less important than a high ceiling. Brissett can hold the fort for a year or two while the rest of the team is rebuilt and the young QB has time to develop. A long shot in addition to the first QB taken might be a sixth-round pick of Joe Milton of Tennessee. Low floor to be sure but a high ceiling--he has the best arm in this class but is green as grass.
Ken Howes

Honestly I hate the idea of moving down to select a lesser quarterback. If you don't want Maye or Daniels, then taking another quarterback in the first round makes no sense. The longer you wait the harder it is to find one who hits. The fourth, fifth or sixth quarterback taken in a given draft rarely winds up being someone you can work with. And Brissett is here to fill the gap until the next guy is ready to go. He won't be here next year unless something really bad happens with regard to the rookie quarterback. Either pick your guy at 3 or go in a different direction and find receivers, tackles and help in other areas while targeting a long-term developmental guy in the later rounds. I don't like the idea of trying to do both.

I realize some might scoff, but could New England trade up from 3 to 1 to get Caleb Williams, who supposedly is a generational talent? Maybe offer 3 and 34? This still gives Chicago high end QB access without too far of a drop. That would give them the options the Patriots will have essentially, with an \additional* very early 2nd pick in a deep WR class. Chicago still walks away with a stud QB and possibly 2 starting WRs. New England gets a franchise keystone.
Michael Murphy

I'm not sure why that makes any sense for Chicago. They want the pick of the litter at quarterback, not whatever is left over. If they want Williams, why would they trade down? If they don't, they can trade the pick for a lot more than a second-rounder.

What are your thoughts on double dipping into a QB during the draft ala 2012 Redskins getting Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins. I think having two different skill sets like Jayden Daniels and Michael Penix Jr if he falls is a decent idea.
Dakota Menke

I don't like the idea of taking two quarterbacks that high in the draft. The Patriots have a lot of needs to fill and they can't afford to use their first two picks, which is what it would require to take Daniels and Penix, on quarterbacks. Penix might not even be available at 34 in the first place. If you want two quarterbacks the second one would have to be a Day 3 pick meant to be developed over time. That's what Washington did with Griffin and Cousins, who was taken in the fourth round.

May be a pipe dream but... What do you think the odds are that NE trades back into the first round? Is that the only way we can grab Maye/Daniels and a prolific WR1? Or do you think we'll be able to grab a quality receiver at pick 34?
Anthony Pedota

I don't think it would be impossible to trade up from 34 back into the first round, but I also don't think that would be necessary to get a solid wide receiver in this draft. There are many options at that stage who figure to make an impact. But I also feel that the Patriots might be better off taking a tackle at 34 to fill a glaring need up front. But again, trading out shouldn't be a must at that point. There should be some quality players still available.

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