Massive Patriots trade rumors reignited, now seem more plausible during NFL Draft

Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

It's been several weeks since Jerod Mayo stated the Patriots were looking into trading for a top-name receiver after falling short of signing one in free agency. Since then, they have remained connected to the names most highly believed to be on the trade market in the draft, including Brandon Aiyuk and Tee Higgins, but nothing has come about yet.

It was feeling like the Patriots of old who talked a big talk but never walked the walk, looking like the chances of a desirable receiver making his way to Foxboro seem slimmer by the day.

But then came the report of Eliot Wolf calling the Eagles to inquire about A.J. Brown's availability via trade. Although he was immediately shut down, as they have no interest in trading him, it brought some optimism to fans who were disappointed with their efforts to get a receiver the team needs.

After that report, the door seemed closed on Aiyuk and Higgins being traded at all this offseason, but with new developments just one day before the 2024 Draft begins, the door has swung open again for the Patriots to make a move for either player.

The 49ers appear unwilling to extend Brandon Aiyuk beyond the 2024 season

The first breaking news came from NFL insider Ian Rapoport, who confirmed the 49ers are still willing to trade their star receiver. This might become more likely the longer they don't reach an agreement on a long-term deal.

He claims there are other teams who are willing to do that for Aiyuk if San Francisco isn't willing to, which could include the Patriots since they are projected to have nearly $200 million in cap space next offseason.

They could easily give a big payday to the receiver if they strike a trade in this year's draft.

What will it take to acquire him, though? The current rumor suggests the 49ers want nothing short of a first round pick, but that doesn't mean a whole lot. The Broncos reportedly wanted the same in exchange for Jerry Jeudy, who they shipped to the Browns earlier this offseason for 2024 fifth and sixth-round picks.

Given the season that Aiyuk is coming off of and the underwhelming market for receivers this year, he would likely go for much higher than that. But the Patriots offering their high second-rounder (pick No. 34) might do the trick.

It has been expected that they would use that selection on a receiver anyway, so why not get a high-value veteran instead?

Tee Higgins demands a trade (again) after contract conversations have still not been had

Another top trade target stemming back to the 2023 season is reportedly (maybe) available again after Higgins requested a trade on Wednesday morning.

Since he last made the demand after being franchise-tagged, it was assumed the Bengals would engage in extension talks to keep him in Cincinnati long-term. But according to the latest update, that still hasn't happened, thus forcing Higgins to want out once again.

Despite the Bengals' insistence that they have no desire to move on from their star receiver, actions speak louder than words, and their lack of negotiations means they are saying a lot more than anything else.

It makes sense why they'd want to keep him around for the 2024 season since they are still in the presumed 'Championship window,' trading away one of their best offensive players would greatly disrupt that.

However, if they have no intention of keeping Higgins long-term, it's better to trade him away when he's the most valuable than watching him walk away in free agency next year for nothing.

The Patriots could easily accommodate him with a new contract, paying him what he deserves and is valued at. They have a lot of cap space remaining for this season, plus an incredible amount next year.

So they should make the call during the draft to see if they can get a deal done, especially since speculation suggests Higgins could go for less than a second-rounder.

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