The phone lines are beginning to burn. After the Atlanta Falcons’ rumored trade of franchise cornerstone Julio Jones, the New England Patriots have reportedly opened phone lines in an attempt to trade up for former Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields.
The San Francisco 49ers are locked in on either Mac Jones and Trey Lance at third overall, for now; so, it wasn’t surprising to hear the reports of interest surrounding the quarterback position out of New England, especially with Cam Newton and Jarrett Stidham set to enter the 2021 season as head coach Bill Belichick’s Nos. 1 and 2 options under center. What is eye-opening, however, has been Fields’ dramatic fall among NFL brass as we creep into the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Fields was the former concrete QB2 in the evaluation process behind Trevor Lawrence as we entered the 2020 college football season. Since his imperceptible weaknesses have slipped him down draft boards with media and All-22 film fanatics dragging Fields’ name through the mud over the spring months. It’s baffling.
Ignore the helmet, ignore past gun-slingers that have donned the scarlet and gray, Fields isn’t Dwayne Haskins; he sure as heck isn’t Cardale Jones. Fields’ skill set is one of the most complete in the class, both from a passing perspective and his ability to create in open space as a runner of the football. The slander surrounding his name and ability speaks to the larger issue Black quarterbacks face at the collegiate and NFL levels.
The Patriots could be the recipient of his fall on Thursday night. According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, New England has begun to test the water on teams in front of the wave of the first half of the draft; at No. 15 overall, it has options. With a multitude of selections (10) in Belichick’s armoire, the potential tandem of Belichick and Fields scheming their way to the top of the AFC East is beyond intriguing, it’s inevitable.
Following the departure of Tom Brady, who has since now won another title with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Belichick, whether he’s directly expressed it publicly or not, is likely to have remorse towards the entire fiasco of Brady ultimately deciding to depart the friendly confines of New England for the warm shores of Tampa Bay. For however many years Belichick has remaining cooped up into his robot-esque temperament is beyond me, but what I do know, and what I can confirm, is Belichick’s desire to replace No. 12 under center with an exciting young prospect in Fields, who offers more foundationally than what Brady did at the same point in their careers.
Now, what would a potential trade look like if New England were to move up? Let’s dig in.
New England represents the second-tier of quarterback-needy teams which will hover until the inevitable occurs of Lawrence to the Jacksonville Jaguars and Zach Wilson to the New York Jets. How San Francisco approaches the third-overall pick, whether it’s Lance or Jones, could also alter the back end of the top 10, with the Carolina Panthers (eighth overall) and Denver Broncos (ninth overall) in position to select a quarterback if they see fit. Carolina would be the less likely of the two to take a signal-caller following the trade for Sam Darnold, but when you flip the script and look at Denver, which enters Year 3 of the Drew Lock roller-coaster, quarterback is a need, especially with general manager George Paton now pushing the buttons with former GM John Elway relegating to his throne of the president of football operations.
If you’re Belichick, and you’re attempting to target a trade offer for Lance, or Jones, or for the sake of this article, Fields, eight is the spot to seal.