Despite their need for a franchise quarterback, the New England Patriots are reportedly a candidate to trade back from the No. 3 overall pick in the 2024 NFL draft.
According to ESPN's Dan Graziano, some people around the league believe the Patriots could address their quarterback need in free agency, trade back from No. 3 and fill other holes on their roster.
By doing so, the Patriots would be passing up the opportunity to select one of the top quarterbacks in the draft in USC's Caleb Williams, North Carolina's Drake Maye or LSU's Jayden Daniels.
Per Graziano, the Atlanta Falcons moving up from No. 8 and Minnesota Vikings moving up from No. 11 would be teams to watch if the Pats do decide to move back since both teams need a franchise quarterback as well.
New England has been in search of a long-term solution at the position since Tom Brady left to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency in 2020, and the organization hasn't had any luck yet.
After the Pats missed the playoffs in Cam Newton's one season as their starting quarterback, they used the No. 15 pick in 2021 to select Mac Jones.
As a rookie, Jones was named a Pro Bowler, finished second in NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting and took New England to the playoffs, so there was hope he could be the guy.
However, the past two seasons were a nightmare for Jones and the Patriots, and it is all but a certainty that he won't be the starter in 2024.
Jones went 6-8 as a starter and threw for 2,997 yards, 14 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 2022, and then this season he went just 2-9 and threw for 2,120 yards, 10 touchdowns and 12 picks.
New England went 4-13 overall in 2023, which was the team's worst record during Bill Belichick's tenure as head coach and led to his parting of ways with the organization.
The Patriots are entering a new era with Jerod Mayo as head coach, and it would seemingly be the perfect time to kick off the new era with a new franchise quarterback.
Williams, Maye and Daniels are all viewed as potential stars in the making at the position, and any of them would bring a great deal of energy and excitement to a franchise that has been down and out for the past few years.
If the Patriots were to address quarterback in free agency and push the search for a franchise quarterback further down the line, Baker Mayfield would perhaps be their top target after he threw for 4,044 yards and 28 touchdowns, and led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to an NFC South title.
New England could also pursue Kirk Cousins, although the longtime Minnesota Vikings quarterback is coming off a torn Achilles at age 35.
The Patriots don't necessarily have to be beholden to taking a quarterback at No. 3, but given where they are as a franchise, it could be a tough sell to the fanbase if they go in a different direction.