New England Patriots

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The Atlanta Falcons are listening to trade offers for the No. 4 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. So the Patriots should trade all the way up and get their next franchise quarterback, right?

Recent history actually suggests that it’s a bad idea. And that’s not to dismiss the importance of the quarterback position compared to every other in football. It’s just that there’s enough of a sample size to know that teams who give up a large chunk of their future for a single player aren’t landing their next franchise guy. These trades reek of desperation, of teams unnecessarily chasing elite QB talent where it doesn’t exist.

As with everything in life, there are exceptions. But there are also caveats to those exceptions. For instance, the Chiefs traded from the 27th pick all the way up to 10th in order to select Patrick Mahomes, and gave up a future first-round pick to do so. Mahomes may go down as the best quarterback of his generation. But even trading up to 10th is a totally different animal from giving up several high picks just to move into the top 3-5.

So if the Patriots actually trade up to the fourth pick to get a quarterback, it would be Bill Belichick’s biggest gamble yet. It would likely require, at minimum, the 15th and 46th picks this year, plus a future first, to swap with the Falcons for the 4th pick. But it would likely cost even more than that, considering they’d probably have to outbid at least one other team (Broncos?). That’s why it remains unlikely that Belichick would do this to trade for one player, even a quarterback.

If it’s proof that you seek, here are the most notable recent examples of teams trading up way high in the draft to take a top quarterback prospect.

So you may ask, “Well what do you want the Patriots to do then?!” Based on recent history, there’s no one who should want the Patriots to get this aggressive in a quarterback trade. As important as the position is, packaging several assets to bet on a single player, especially to get in the top-5, has more often than not been a losing strategy. And it’s fair to believe that Belichick feels the same way. You may disagree with him, but he’s more likely to say “Why trade four picks for just Trey Lance when I can draft Micah Parsons, Davis Mills, and two high draft picks next year?”

The Patriots’ quarterback situation remains uncertain, and the continued presence of Cam Newton as the presumptive starter will garner some warranted anxiety over the 2021 season. But if Belichick makes a move like the ones described above, there’s a good chance he’ll regret it.

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Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at