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New England Patriots quarterback situation huge wildcard heading into 2021 NFL Draft

The New England Patriots might want us to believe that they are confident in Cam Newton as their starting quarterback for next season. That’s about as cute as the San Francisco 49ers concluding that Jimmy Garoppolo fits into their long-term future after trading up to the No. 3 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

There’s one common denominator here. New England knows how to pull the fakes with the best of them. San Francisco has learned to do just that under head coach Kyle Shanahan and general John Lynch.

So, one reasonable parallel could be drawn here. Linked to a reunion with Garoppolo over the past few months, the Patriots could pull off a trade with their west-coach brother in that of the 49ers and find an immediate upgrade over Newton.

It’s one of many possibilities being bandied about as the 2021 NFL Draft approaches in less than two weeks. Now, at every turn, the no-look passes and pump fakes we’ve seen from Bill Belichick and his Patriots since their dynasty began back in 2000 continue to pop up.

“Bill Belichick has run or been a chief honcho in 26 drafts—five in Cleveland, 21 in New England. Never has he picked a quarterback in the first round,” the venerable Peter King noted in his weekly Football Morning in America article. “Once has he picked a quarterback in the second round (Jimmy Garoppolo, 2014). Never has he picked a quarterback in the top 60 of a draft. So you might look at all that history and eliminate the Pats from moving up to 10 or nine or eight to pick a passer.”

That’s not in any way a small sample size. We’re talking 26 drafts with Belichick acting as the top dog in NFL Draft war rooms without taking a quarterback in the first round.

In the same vein, the aforementioned King noted that he “wouldn’t eliminate” the possibility that the New England Patriots make a move up for a quarterback during the 2021 NFL Draft. And so begins New England joining San Francisco as the biggest wildcards heading into the annual event.

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It’s interesting to note. From Fargo in North Dakota to Columbus in Ohio, these 49ers and Patriots have been joined at the hip when it comes to quarterback workouts ahead of the draft. The assumption here is that Trevor Lawrence will go No. 1 to the Jacksonville Jaguars with the New York Jets selecting Zach Wilson at two.

If so, San Francisco will be deciding between the likes of Trey Lance (North Dakota State), Justin Fields (Ohio State) and Mac Jones (Alabama). The 49ers’ brass has met up with Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots powers that be at each stop during this quarterback tour — being shown talking to their counterparts in the process.

Does Belichick have an inkling what the 49ers are going to do at three? This is highly unlikely given the fact that NFL insiders are playing the guessing game right now. Rather, it’s all about New England evaluating the three quarterbacks who could go to San Francisco and deciding if either of the two remaining signal callers is worth a massive trade up with the Atlanta Falcons at four.

Heck, there’s a chance New England likes all three quarterbacks and won’t have to trade up all the way to four to land that long-awaited heir-apparent to Tom Brady.

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
  • Atlanta Falcons: Moving up from the 15th selection to fourth overall would cost the Pats a major bounty. In reality, it would be similar to when San Francisco moved up from 12 to three with the Miami Dolphins (two future first-round picks and a third-rounder). If Belichick likes one of the quarterbacks the 49ers don’t select, this is a possibility. However, exhausting that much draft capital has not been his MO in New England.
  • Carolina Panthers: This actually makes the most sense for the New England Patriots. Carolina is no longer in need of a quarterback after exhausting a huge capital to land Sam Darnold from the New York Jets. Could the Panthers look to move down from eight? It’s possible. Under this scenario, non-quarterbacks go off the board from 4-7, enabling New England to have its pick of the litter after San Francisco’s selection.

Still following along? Given what King noted regarding what we’ve see from Belichick over the past quarter-century, the assumption has to be that these Patriots will stand pat and look at another position at 15. This scenario would include adding a quarterback such as Kyle Trask or Kellen Mond outside of Round 1.

Even then, the Patriots went against the grain during NFL free agency. Typically one of the teams that avoids spending big money, New England exhausted north of $200 million in cold hard cash on outside free agents back in March — the largest number in the NFL.

What’s to stop Belichick and Co. from shocking everyone and pulling off a blockbuster trade for a quarterback? Absolutely nothing.

The again, the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers could get together and pull off a Jimmy Garoppolo trade. The two organizations are enjoying their trips across the United States while evaluating quarterbacks.

Why not throw another wrench into the 2021 NFL Draft by making that move? Garoppolo reuniting with a head coach in Belichick who didn’t want to trade him in the first place. Yeah, these New England Patriots and their quarterback situation remains a true wildcard heading into the annual event. Insert the hoodie with an evil grin.