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The quarterback situation across the NFL has been constantly evolving all offseason. We got a new twist Monday afternoon that could take a team set to pick top 10 in the draft out of the QB conversation.

As first reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the New York Jets have traded Sam Darnold to the Carolina Panthers, in exchange for a sixth-round pick in 2021 and second and fourth-round selections in 2022. Darnold is expected to compete with Teddy Bridgewater for the starting job.

This is the second time in the last three weeks that a trade has drastically altered the projection for the top of this year’s NFL Draft. When the San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins, and Philadelphia Eagles made what was essentially a three-team trade two weeks ago, it took the third and sixth overall picks off the market, a major blow to the Patriots’ chances of moving up for a quarterback. Now though, it’s good news for the Patriots as they look for a long-term answer at the position.

With the top three picks virtually guaranteed to be quarterbacks in a draft that has five top 10 caliber players at the position, the expectation has been any other team wanting to add one of those arms will need to be aggressive in terms of trading up. Competing with Carolina, the Patriots were at an inherent disadvantage, given the Panthers own the eighth pick, which is more valuable than New England’s 15th.

Now that Carolina is out of the picture, the Patriots have one less team to bid against, and possibly no teams with more valuable picks than their own left to compete with (Denver at nine overall would be the most likely, but not a guarantee). It also potentially frees up Carolina’s eighth pick as a spot to trade up, where the Patriots should be able to get the last of the five quarterbacks left on the board.

In addition to the draft, this could impact any future negotiations involving Jimmy Garoppolo. Even though those talks have gone cold for now, it’s not unrealistic to think they’ll pick back up at some point. If they do, the price on a serviceable but injury-prone starting quarterback has been set. Given Darnold is 23 years old, and Garoppolo is 29, the Patriots can use the Jets return as an absolute ceiling, and shouldn’t have to give up more than what Carolina did.

There’s still three and a half weeks before the first round of the draft takes place on April 29, and a lot can change between now and then. However, just when it seemed like the Patriots’ pursuit of a first round quarterback was over before it even began, they’ve been given a second chance – thanks in part to a division rival.

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Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at abarth@985TheSportsHub.com.