The Patriots’ quarterback situation has been a hot topic of discussion over the last three years, and after another season ending in disappointment, the conversation has gained traction even more.
The connection between Lamar Jackson and Bill Belichick is well known at this point, and it seems the coach will never be able to live down the missed opportunity to draft him when he had the chance. But now that the Ravens are allowing the quarterback to test free agency, the Patriots could make the move to get him in Foxboro if they choose to.
Although there are some valid reasons why Belichick should consider trading for him, there are nearly just as many reasons why he shouldn’t.
1. Mac Jones was just drafted two years ago
The need for immediate satisfaction from young quarterbacks has tainted the league over the last few years. Of course, everyone wants their team to win, and some teams have seriously lucked out with the quarterbacks they have drafted who immediately become stars atop the league. But players in any position often take time to adjust to the NFL, or they’re not put in the best situation to succeed when they first enter the league.
That is currently the case with Mac Jones.
The Patriots were lucky that he fell to them in the 2021 draft, especially as the 49ers were reportedly debating between him and Trey Lance for the third overall pick. And all four quarterbacks that were taken before Jones have yet to accomplish incredible success, proving even more that good things can take time.
Not to mention, the Patriots team wasn’t exactly set up for lots of winning in 2022, with several coaching changes and limited roster adjustments, which seemed to impact the offense and Jones the most.
Then you can compare Jones to several other young quarterbacks in the league and notice when they seemed to hit their stride; Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Tua Tagovailoa, for example, they all propelled in their third season. Since Jones will be starting his third year in the league this September, shouldn’t he be given the chance to prove himself with adequate coaching and better circumstances?
2. Jackson likely wants to be the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL
Since the Ravens announced they were tagging Jackson earlier this week, several teams have already claimed not to be interested in seeking a trade for him. Depending on the team, there may be hidden reasons for this, but the most likely explanation is how much Jackson reportedly wants in a long-term contract.
We know that prices increase every season, and the amount for quarterbacks always seems to rise the most.
With the recent blockbuster signings of Russell Wilson (five years, $242 million), Kyler Murray (five years, $230 million), and Deshaun Watson (five years, $230 million), Jackson is said to want a similar deal. On the surface, it may not be demanding too much, as the players’ market will always jump from year to year, but the kicker is the guaranteed money; Wilson is set for $161 million in guarantees, Murray with $189 million, and Watson with $230 million.
Watson’s outrageous contract set the tone for all the others, with Jackson lucking out to have yet to strike a deal with the Ravens beforehand. So now that he’s set to earn a long-term contract, why wouldn’t he seek a similar deal?
The Ravens are said to have offered Jackson a five-year, $250 million contract with $133 million guaranteed before the 2022 season, and he’s said to be seeking closer to Watson’s guaranteed money.
Although that may be the going rate for quarterbacks, it doesn’t seem very smart for the Patriots to entertain a trade when they have a quarterback under contract for next to nothing for two more seasons.
3. Spending two first-round picks for Jackson could be a big mistake
The Ravens’ current asking price for any team to trade for Jackson is a minimum of two first-round picks. They may ask for more than that, but two first-rounders are damaging enough to a team that could use them.
Giving up draft capital is nothing new when trading for a valuable player, especially a quarterback, so Baltimore’s return is nothing another team in their position wouldn’t do. And when you’re a team struggling to find a competent quarterback, you’re generally more than willing to do whatever it takes to get your hands on one that has proven himself to be more than that.
The Patriots may not be in that desperate position since Mac Jones is still on a rookie contract for two more seasons, but because of Belichick’s uncertainty about his readiness to be the team’s franchise quarterback, he could follow the path of a quarterback-needy team ready to hand over valuable draft picks.
Other than the obvious issues with that, particularly the likely disagreement on Jones between Belichick and Robert Kraft, the team seriously needs improvement in many areas. They currently hold the 14th overall pick, the highest they’ve had since the 2008 draft, and will have their choice of incredibly talented receivers, cornerbacks, offensive tackles, and more, all of which are deprived areas of the roster.
Trading two first-round picks over the next two years feels like a mistake before it even happens. We’ve seen the Rams struggle since trading half their early-round picks away to trade for Matthew Stafford, and it is not a position the Patriots should want to experience themselves.
4. The Cam Newton experiment didn’t work out too well
After Tom Brady unexpectedly left New England in 2020, the Patriots desperately needed a quarterback. Clearly, they didn’t believe in their backup Jarrett Stidham, hence the seemingly last-minute decision to bring in Cam Newton in late June of that year.
The initial reaction to the signing was met with excitement and confusion because of his drastically different style of play than what the Patriots traditionally had on the roster. Brady is obviously the epitome of a pocket passer, but even the team’s backup quarterbacks were not known for their mobility, making the Newton signing utterly unfamiliar territory.
For good and bad reasons, the 2020 season is certainly one to remember. The experiment of a mobile quarterback didn’t seem to work; from Belichick’s inexperience coaching that type of player and Josh McDaniels’ apparent difficulty in drawing up plays that suited Newton’s strengths the best, it wound up not working whatsoever.
It could be blamed on Newton’s age and injury history, as he was 31 years old and dealing with injuries stemming from his time with the Panthers. Although he was an incredibly talented player, he wasn’t in his prime anymore and admittedly struggled throughout his time with the team.
Bill O’Brien’s experience coaching Deshaun Watson does change things a little since he will be the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. But does it dramatically swing the results in the Patriots’ favor? Could his presence and history working with a mobile quarterback be the only factor to make Jackson and the Patriots work well together?
Maybe, but it seems like a lot for one person to undertake.