With the regular season underway and the trade deadline at the end of next month, there are a lot of hypothetical trades making their way online, and the latest one, of course, includes the Patriots and their need for a big-name receiver.
Other than ensuring young quarterbacks have top talent around them to help them transition from college to the pros, it has become a trend in the last handful of years to give these developing leaders of the offense a top-name wide receiver in their third season.
We've seen it done with Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts, and Tua Tagovailoa, all of whom have significantly benefitted from adding those top-name pass catchers. But for some reason, which isn't entirely surprising, Bill Belichick didn't follow that formula for early success with Mac Jones this year and instead signed just JuJu Smith-Schuster in free agency.
So that's where FanDuel came in with their suggested trade; the Vikings would trade Justin Jefferson to the Patriots for two first-round picks and a 2024 third-rounder.
Although some may deem it entirely imaginative, with some even calling it a move that could only be done in a video game, it's an interesting proposition for both teams. The other common argument has been that the compensation the Vikings would receive for their unreal receiver is simply not enough, which is a fair argument given his impressive career so far and what it is projected to be.
If we're going to play into the idea that this is something that could actually happen because this is the NFL and we have seen some crazy, unbelievable, 'never thought I'd see the day' type of trades happen over the years, then let's really dive into it.
Why would the Vikings even entertain trading a guy like Jefferson?
The biggest question is undoubtedly regarding the chances of the Vikings wanting to trade a guy like Jefferson at any time in his career.
It seems it is out of the question, given his importance to the team and its success. But like most teams in any professional sport, any player can be had at a specific price, making all players up for trade at all times, even if the team claims otherwise.
Now, there has not been any indication of Minnesota even entertaining the idea of trading Jefferson, and it doesn't seem like something that would ever really be made public. But that is the case with big-name receivers that have been traded in the last few years: A.J. Brown, Stefon Diggs, and Tyreek Hill.
They could also become sellers at the deadline if they continue the season how it has started, hoping to get the most they can for a valuable player to help make the team better for next season and beyond.
Perhaps it's not entirely off the table, since they did draft a first-round receiver earlier this year, Jordan Addison, shocking almost everyone due to the talent they currently rostered. But it could be a sign of the future if the rookie can prove himself early in his career.
It's not impossible, although it does seem unlikely.
Would Bill Belichick actually pull this trade off?
That's the biggest question when discussing the Patriots' involvement in this hypothetical situation.
Belichick is not known for spending big bucks on top players like Jefferson during his decades of being a coach, so it seems fair to assume that wouldn't change now. However, if there really is a desire to become a competitive team as soon as this season, adding an absolute game-changing receiver to an offense that instills no fear in opposing defenses seems like a good idea.
On top of that, the head coach and GM hasn't had the most success finding those types of receivers in the draft, so acquiring Jefferson would ensure the team got a first-round proven talent right from the get-go.
Since Belichick passed on taking a receiver high in the draft, an expectation that almost every analyst assumed would be the move this year, if he could pull off the most unbelievable thing and trade for Jefferson, a lot of those grievances about his roster decisions would probably be forgiven.
Even though the price would inevitably be high, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad idea to give up a couple of first-rounders to acquire Jefferson, who would be the face of the offense for a long time.
Would the proposed compensation be enough for the Vikings?
It depends on who you ask.
Looking back at the most blockbuster trades for wide receivers in recent years, it seems to be nearly on par, if not a little less than what it would take to actually pull it off.
The Titans traded A.J. Brown to the Eagles for the 18th overall pick and the 101st in the 2022 draft, with the receiver coming off the best season of his career at just 24 years old.
The Vikings traded Stefon Diggs to the Bills for the 22nd overall pick in 2020, plus a fifth and sixth-rounder that same year and a 2021 fourth-rounder.
Then there's Tyreek Hill, who was probably the most shocking trade of them all. The Chiefs traded their star to the Dolphins for the 29th overall pick in 2022, plus a second and fourth-rounder. They also added in fourth and sixth rounds picks in 2023.
Essentially, the Patriots would offer a bit more since their trade offer would include two first-round picks and a third-rounder, which is much more value than what any other of the teams mentioned above received in return for their trades. But since Jefferson is likely one of the best receivers in the NFL right now, it wouldn't be at all shocking if the Vikings wanted another draft pick or a player included in the deal.
Regardless of whether this happens or not, Belichick still needs to make a move
Although it may just be a pipe dream that most Patriots fans would want to see happen, all Vikings fans would immediately veto it; it is an interesting scenario to ponder, especially with how both teams have started the 2023 season.
The lack of signing of a top receiver over the past years, coupled with not addressing the position in the draft and the failed luring of DeAndre Hopkins to the team earlier this summer, Belichick could right one of his most significant wrongs as of late by pulling off a massive trade like this.
Maybe it won't be for Jefferson; it could be for another talented top-name receiver. But it is certainly something he should seriously consider, particularly when looking at the unexciting list of free agents next year.