The New England Patriots re-signed quarterback Cam Newton this offseason and have given the veteran signal-caller a new cast of weapons in free agency, including tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry, and wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
And while the 2021 Patriots offense is likely to be vastly improved, the future of the franchise remains hinged on the quarterback position. Newton should be fine for one more season, but it’s critical that New England finds its future behind center in the 2021 NFL Draft.
NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah believes Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office will be aggressive in landing their franchise quarterback in April, with Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance the two most likely names on their wish list.
“I keep an eye on somebody like Trey Lance or Justin Fields,” Jeremiah said during a recent episode of the Move the Sticks podcast. “Those are the two that would make sense for them to target. Hear a lot of rumors out there that they are really high on Justin Fields out of Ohio State. So, they’d have to (trade up) quite a ways to get Justin Fields.”
Jeremiah’s co-host, Bucky Brooks, is also a believer in the Patriots going all-in on a quarterback.
“I think the New England Patriots could be real aggressive,” Brooks said. “We’ve seen the New England Patriots step outside their comfort zone as it relates to free agency. We saw them completely rebuild the roster with the number of signings and free agency. … I believe they’re about to go all-in on an offensive makeover. The young quarterback is the final piece to the puzzle. And I think that quarterback will be an athletic quarterback.”
The 2021 NFL draft will feature as many as four quarterbacks picked in the top five, including Fields and Lance. If the Patriots are serious about drafting either one of them, it’ll likely require a big trade up the board. A move like that would run counter to what we’ve become accustomed to with Belichick-run drafts, but if this year’s free agency approach is any indicator, expect the unexpected from New England.