The 2023 season isn't even halfway through yet, and there is already plenty of conversation regarding which teams will be in the mix for one of the top quarterback prospects of the 2024 NFL draft, USC's Caleb Williams.
Typically, the Patriots are nowhere near the top of the first round to consider selecting one of the best of the class, but with the way their season has gone thus far, they are one of the leading teams to be looking for their next franchise quarterback.
Through five weeks of the season, New England is currently slated with the fifth overall pick, their highest position since the 1994 draft when they took Willie McGinest with the fourth pick.
There's plenty of time for that to change, with 12 weeks remaining in the season. However, given their current trajectory, they may end the year with a top-ten pick regardless, allowing them to potentially get a quarterback they feel is best for the team's future.
Although there is the chance that the season gets turned around at some point, many fans are hoping Bill Belichick will decide to tank the rest of the way to nab Williams in the draft. Because he is considered the quarterback with the highest chance of being first off the board, the Patriots would have to end the season with a pretty bad record, and that's exactly what The Ringer's Bill Simmons hopes they do.
After the Patriots' blowout loss to the Cowboys last week, Simmons (who is a Patriots fan) discussed the idea on "The Bill Simmons Podcast" and why he feels it's the right time to tank. He feels the Patriots are one of six teams that will be vying for Williams in particular, making it even more critical they lose out the rest of the season.
"I think there are six teams that are going to be in this Caleb Williams sweepstakes. The question that I was texting my friends about today is just, like, ‘It’s time right?’ If we’re ever going to have a chance to get another franchise quarterback, this season seems like it’s wide open."
He has a point about the team needing to find their franchise quarterback if they have already decided that Mac Jones is not the guy, and the best way to do that would be to have a higher draft pick. It's the best way to ensure you have more players available to choose from rather than having to trade everything but the kitchen sink to get a top-five pick.
However, does Belichick seem like the type to throw it all away and tank a season? Because to most, there is not a single reason to believe he would ever do that.
The only logical explanation to believe he would consider losing out would be to get a highly touted quarterback to turn the team around and ensure he has a job next season because of it. That is likely the only way this happens.
But according to Simmons, they may not have to even try to tank. They may just do it naturally because their schedule is not easy and how "untalented" their team is overall.
"They have a really tough schedule, they’ve had injuries on defense already, they have the worst offense in the league other than maybe Carolina, and I can’t think of a single reason why this team would think it has a chance to compete because it’s not going to be able to.
They got absolutely annihilated by New Orleans (on Sunday). Annihilated. Mac is unplayable. They have, I would say, one of the four worst offensive lines in the league. They have no skill-position guys you would write home about. And the defense got worse because of the injuries. I just don’t see a path for them to not be 3-14, so why not embrace it? Why not trade a couple of guys and try to bottom out? I think this is the year to do it."
Again, in theory, his idea is not all that bad.
The issue becomes whether Belichick would genuinely decide to do that while also getting the entire roster on board with it as well. It has to be a collective effort to lose out, but that doesn't seem likely when a player's job is on the line.
Plus, a handful of quarterbacks will be available in the top ten that may not require the Patriots to actively tank if they're hoping to draft their next quarterback. Williams is touted as the best of the class, but other guys like North Carolina's Drake Maye, Oregon's Bo Nix, and Washington's Michael Penix Jr.
New England has shown interest in Nix and Pennix, as scouts will attend the Ducks/Huskies matchup on Saturday. So it's clear they're doing their due diligence to look at the best quarterback options and shouldn't limit themselves to just going after Williams, especially if it requires tanking.