With less than 24 hours before the start of the 2021 NFL Draft, word got out that the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons discussed a trade in which the Patriots would move up in the draft to secure the Falcons’ #4 pick in an effort to grab quarterback Justin Fields.

New England Patriots Atlanta Falcons trade NFL Draft #4 pick fourth
The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons discussed a trade for the fourth pick in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. The Pats need a franchise quarterback to fill the void after Tom Brady departed in free agency last season. (Image: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

The rumor suggested that the Patriots were seriously considering a major trade to secure a franchise quarterback. The Pats currently have the #15 pick in the draft and quarterback Cam Newton under contract for one more season.

“With the Patriots, these trade discussions are a strong indication they’ve found conviction in at least one of those top QBs, and word is they think highly of Justin Fields, highly enough that they’ve even spoken with the Falcons about the fourth pick,” said Jeff Howe from The Athletic.

If the two parties were on the same page, the Patriots and Falcons would’ve pulled the trigger on the trade already.

Bill Belichick isn’t someone who pulls off dramatic game-day trades. The Patriots built a dynasty with frugal free-agency spending and playing it conservative with the draft. It’s not the “Patriots Way” to leverage future draft picks in pursuit of a single player. However, the current Patriots are in desperate need of a franchise quarterback after Tom Brady bolted last season and won a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

If a draft-day trade doesn’t work out, the Patriots could always consider acquiring Jimmy G in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers.

Fields: Stock Slipping

Over the past couple of weeks, Fields has seen his draft stock tank. A couple of months ago, the Jets were the favorite to select Fields with the #2 pick. Over the weekend, Fields saw his stock slip dramatically when the San Francisco 49ers indicated they’re interested in Mac Jones (Alabama) or Trey Lance (North Dakota State).

With Fields’ draft stock slipping, the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots became co-favorites to select him in the draft.

The San Francisco 49ers made a bold move when they traded multiple first-round picks to the Miami Dolphins for the third pick in the draft. The Niners leveraged their future in pursuit of a franchise quarterback. Initially, experts assumed that the Niners would grab whomever the Jets passed up in the Fields and Zach Wilson (BYU) coin flip. Word on the street in Gotham is that the Jets love Wilson and will draft him with the second pick. Instead of Fields, the Niners are eying Jones.

Atlanta Not Drafting a QB?

The Atlanta Falcons leaked that they’re not interested in drafting a quarterback with the fourth overall pick. This could just be a smokescreen, or it could be the stone-cold truth. We won’t know for sure until NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell calls out the name of their pick on Thursday evening.

That would mean Fields, a Georgia native, would be available with the fourth pick. If the Falcons draft a wide receiver or offensive lineman instead of Fields, then they could trade down and fill their needs while adding extra picks.

The fourth pick is highly coveted from teams that are in desperate need of a quarterback. That list includes the Patriots, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Denver Broncos.

The Broncos recently added quarterback Teddy Bridgewater in a trade with the Carolina Panthers. Just because they obtained Bridgewater, doesn’t mean the Broncos still don’t want to land a franchise quarterback.

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