New England Patriots

Should Patriots pay this potential price tag for a Justin Fields trade?

Fields' future in Chicago is uncertain as the 2024 NFL Draft approaches.

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The New England Patriots could go in several different directions to address their quarterback depth chart this offseason.

Free agency begins in March, and while the group of quarterbacks expected to be available isn't amazing, a couple veterans worth considering are Kirk Cousins and Baker Mayfield. The Patriots could also trade for a quarterback. Justin Fields might be available, especially if the Chicago Bears decide to take USC quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Of course, the Patriots could choose their own quarterback in the draft. They own the No. 3 pick and should be able to select one of Williams, UNC's Drake Maye or LSU's Jayden Daniels -- the consensus Tier 1 quarterbacks in the 2024 class.

Fields is an intriguing option. His dual-threat skill set is impressive, and the Patriots got a firsthand look at it when he scored multiple times against their defense during a Monday Night Football game in the 2022 season.

What would it cost to acquire Fields via trade? The MMQB's Albert Breer was asked this question in his latest mailbag story.

"Fields would probably be a Day 2 pick and a Day 3 pick," Breer wrote. "Then, you have to make a decision on whether or not to pick up his fifth-year option, which would give you two years of runway to figure out whether or not he’s your guy at a price of about $25 million ($3.2 million for next year, and around $21 million or so for the fifth-year option)."

There's no way the Patriots should give the Bears the No. 34 overall pick (second round) in a package for Fields. Sending a third-round pick to Chicago would make a lot more sense. Our Patriots insider Phil Perry explored that possibility in his latest mock draft.

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Fields set career highs with a 61.4 completion percentage and 2,562 passing yards in 13 games last season. He also threw 16 touchdown passes and nine interceptions. He's very good at picking up yards with his legs, too. Fields ran for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns in 2022. He followed that up by tallying 657 yards and four touchdowns on the ground last season.

While there's no question that Fields is an exciting talent and could be quite productive in the right system, the smarter and less risky path for the Patriots is taking a quarterback with the No. 3 pick.

Maye and Daniels have more upside than Fields, and they would be cheaper against the salary cap over the next several seasons, which would give the Patriots more flexibility to surround them with top-tier talent at the skill positions.

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