The New England Patriots are one of the various franchises with a big need at quarterback. The team is bringing back Cam Newton on a very cheap deal, but many believe the Pats will take a quarterback in the first round, even if it requires a trade up into the top 10 to land one of the big five prospects at the position.
On Tuesday, ESPN's Dianna Russini reported that the Pats had been in contact with a team in the top 10. One of the more interesting notes: superstar cornerback Stephon Gilmore could be involved in a trade package, after months of speculation that he could be moved, dating back to the 2020 trade deadline.
It is unclear if the Atlanta Falcons are the team that Russini heard from, but with the No. 4 pick in tow, they have reportedly been in contact with New England.
According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Bill Belichick's franchise has Justin Fields targeted. The Ohio State star has been floated as an option to the Falcons at No. 4, though Atlanta seems unlikely to go quarterback that early in the draft, and the Carolina Panthers at No. 8. Atlanta is heavily connected to tight end Kyle Pitts, so it's not clear if they'd trade all the way back to No. 15 and almost definitely lose out on the chance to take him, but it is certainly worth keeping an eye out as we close in on tomorrow's first round.
At Howe notes, if the New England Patriots are banking on Gilmore being the key piece in a big move up, Atlanta may not be a fit. The Falcons are way up against the salary cap, with just $1 million in space even before they worry about getting draft picks under contract. The situation has led to some rumors that they may deal their own veteran star, wide receiver Julio Jones, to alleviate that cap crunch.
If the Patriots really want Fields though, they can put together a big package to get him, without unloading more contracts on Atlanta. It would be a pretty unprecedented move for Belichick, but without Tom Brady locked in under center, the Patriots have entered a new reality.
Tomorrow night's first round of the NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. ET.