Look, it’s always about perspective, but when someone suggests the New England Patriots trade Mac Jones after an incredibly promising rookie season, the take needs to be dissected a bit deeper.
Leave it to WEEI to drop this hot soup on our lap, but former Patriots tight end Jermaine Wiggins showed his hand very early in the offseason and believes New England should gear up for a blockbuster deal with Jones as the centerpiece.
Better be a hell of a return, right? A quarterback as NFL-ready as Jones after Year 1 isn’t a “peak value” situation, but you’re giving another team four years of cost-effective control with the most important position in the game.
The good news is that Wiggins thinks the Patriots should be getting one of Deshaun Watson or Russell Wilson in return. The bad news? Watson isn’t exactly anybody you want to pay top dollar for right now (for a number of reasons) while Wilson, who is still great, is clearly past his prime and will be had for his age-34 and -35 seasons.
WEEI proposed a Patriots blockbuster trade involving QB Mac Jones.
Another MAJOR issue here? The Patriots cap situation. With just under $8 million to spend in 2022, we’re just not sure how they’d clear enough space for either of these guys. Just look at these insane cap hits the next two seasons:
- Watson 2022: $40.4 million cap hit ($51.2 million dead cap)
- Watson 2023: $42.4 million cap hit ($10.8 million dead cap)
- Wilson 2022: $37 million cap hit ($26 million dead cap)
- Wilson 2023: $40 million cap hit ($13 million dead cap)
Getting Jones off the book in a deal like this hardly does anything, and it’s doubtful the Texans or Seahawks would want any of the Patriots’ other highest-paid players, which include Nelson Agholor, Jonnu Smith, Davon Godchaux, Isaiah Wynn and Shaq Mason (no way New England moves Matt Judon or Hunter Henry, both of whom claim the top cap hits for 2022).
Now, the idea isn’t that egregious. It’s just not entirely plausible given the other factors. The Patriots are clearly elite QB play away from Super Bowl contention. If Tom Brady had the 2021 roster’s rushing attack and defense, it’d be hard to argue the Patriots wouldn’t have made the AFC Championship Game. And if you’re a Super Bowl-or-bust type of person, this type of swap, in theory, reasonably aligns with that narrative.
But then it’s important to realize the Pats could be losing guys like Devin McCourty, JC Jackson, Dont’a HIghtower, Trent Brown, Ted Karras, James White, Matthew Slater and others to free agency this offseason. It’d be difficult to even maintain two of those guys if a salary such as Watson’s or Wilson’s needs to be accommodated.
As a thought exercise, putting Watson or Wilson on the Patriots, as currently constructed at this very moment, is fun to think about. It’s just not really possible, and it’s safe to bet on the Patriots preferring 10-plus years of stability and consistency rather than ~2-3 years with the pressure of “going for it all” weighing on you before it all comes crashing down.