Latest proposed trade labeled "undeniable" for Patriots and Cowboys

Nov 12, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA;  Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) reacts after a catch during the first quarter against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 12, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) reacts after a catch during the first quarter against the New York Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports / Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Among the many topics surrounding the Patriots heading into the 2024 offseason was their lack of true WR1 on the roster. There was a belief they would make a blockbuster trade for a player of that caliber, given the amount of cap space they had available, or would maybe even sneak their way back into the first round of this year's draft to select one.

But neither situation happened, leaving a void on the roster as the team heads into minicamp.

It remains one of the biggest concerns when looking ahead to the 2024 season, and their options to get a trade done before it begins are dwindling. Justin Jefferson just received the massive extension he had been waiting for, taking him off the table, even if it was a dream to begin with. Other potential targets, like A.J. Brown and Mike Evans, have already been locked down, leaving only a few players for the Patriots to inquire about.

Rumored favorite Tee Higgins remains unsigned by the Bengals, with a potential holdout expected in the near future, and Brandon Aiyuk, who the 49ers insist is not available for trade.

But what about another player looking for an extension that is getting little to no attention from receiver-needy teams? That's a point Bleacher Report's Brad Gagnon covered in a new piece diving into trade proposals for Cowboys' CeeDee Lamb, which includes the Patriots.

Latest proposed trade labeled "undeniable" for Patriots and Cowboys

Now that the receiver market has been reset after Jefferson's four-year, $140 million extension, others are looking to match his annual salary or be paid more, including Lamb. The Cowboys have not appeared too eager to keep their stars in recent years, not even quarterback Dak Prescott, who is expected to hit free agency for the first time in his career next offseason.

Lamb is another player looking for a payday from Dallas who might not get it, making him a potential trade target for a team like the Patriots.

Gagnon says they're well-equipped to make a solid offer to the Cowboys to acquire Lamb, but it won't come cheap. He suggests they trade rookie second-round receiver Ja'Lynn Polk and a future first-rounder for Lamb to finally get the WR1 their team needs.

"The Patriots just used a high second-round pick on Polk, who scored nine touchdowns last season at Washington. But if they see an opportunity to upgrade massively in support of rookie Drake Maye, a quick flip could be in the cards.

Of course, they'd have to throw in a first-round pick because elite receivers are such hot commodities right now. Tyreek Hill commanded a first, a second, two fourths and a sixth pick before also getting his bag from the Dolphins two years ago. This shouldn't be far off of that.

This deal would allow Dallas raise a bunch of salary-cap space and draft capital while still landing a high-ceiling receiver, with the bonus of Lamb leaving the conference and joining a non-contender."

It's a steep price to pay for the 25-year-old, but he's at the top of his game and one of the best in the league, which prompts the Cowboys to want a lot in return.

He has been nearly unstoppable over the last three seasons, recording 135 receptions for 1,749 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2023 alone. It would be an unfortunate development for the Cowboys to unsuccessfully extend him beyond this upcoming season and would really deplete their offense, so the proposed high asking price seems about right.

But it then begs the question, do the Patriots need to do this trade right now?

Blockbuster trade for CeeDee Lamb might not be worth it for the Patriots

As great as adding a player of Lamb's talent to the Patriots roster, trading away a rookie receiver we're yet to see take the field, and adding in a first-round draft pick, which is projected to be in the top 10, feels very risky.

Based on ESPN's projections, New England isn't expected to fare much better in 2024 than last season, which would put them in a similar spot in next year's draft. That is a much higher price for a guy like Lamb than most would want to pay, even if they would inevitably benefit from his production.

Jerod Mayo and Eliot Wolf would need to be 100% sold on locking Lamb down for several years with a new contract and believing he will be exactly what the team needs to even consider a trade like this because otherwise, they'd lose more than they'd gain.

The unfortunate truth is that this will likely be their fate in their pursuit of adding a trusted WR1 to the team unless they manage to find one in the draft. Almost all of the most desirable receivers will not be on the move next offseason either, and if they are, the teams will be looking for similar deals to this proposal.

So, you can either risk it all in a blockbuster trade or wait it out until you find the right one in the draft. Neither seems like an easy decision.

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