There are plenty of bold moves the New England Patriots can make to upgrade their roster in 2024. (See: Phil Perry's latest 2024 NFL Mock Draft.)
But the Patriots trade proposal that FOX Sports' Colin Cowherd recently concocted might be the spiciest.
Cowherd's idea was inspired by ESPN's Jeremy Fowler reporting that league personnel are "keeping an eye on" the Minnesota Vikings as a team that may look to trade up from No. 11 overall to draft a quarterback in the top three of the 2024 draft.
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That led Cowherd to throw out the following trade on Monday's episode of FS1's The Herd that involves New England swapping first-round picks with the Vikings while landing superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson and Minnesota's 2025 first-rounder:
- Vikings receive: Patriots' 2024 first-rounder (No. 3 overall)
- Patriots receive: Justin Jefferson, Vikings' 2024 first-rounder (No. 11 overall), Vikings' 2025 first-rounder
"What does New England desperately need? A playmaker," Cowherd said. "I'll give you next year's (first-round pick) and Justin Jefferson to go from 11 to 3, because they've already got Jordan Addison, they've got the tight end (T.J. Hockenson) they like. They've got skill players. Next year's one and Justin Jefferson to move up to the number three spot to get your quarterback."
That's quite the haul for the Patriots, who would land arguably the NFL's best wide receiver and a future first-round pick to move down just eight spots in Round 1.
We should note this is 100 percent hypothetical, and the Vikings have shown zero indication they'll trade their three-time Pro Bowler and 2022 NFL Offensive Player of the Year. That said, Jefferson is entering the final year of his contract and likely will demand the largest receiver contract in NFL history next offseason.
So, if Minnesota doesn't want to pay up to keep its superstar, perhaps the team will consider moving Jefferson -- just like it moved Stefon Diggs on the final year of his rookie deal.
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This trade seems lopsided in New England's favor, especially if the Vikings miss the playoffs in 2025. But this is still in the ballpark of the haul the Patriots could receive if they trade the No. 3 pick, with at least a 2025 first-rounder and additional capital likely coming their way in return.
Then again, New England desperately needs a franchise quarterback and would be guaranteed one of Caleb Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels at No. 3 overall. So, would you rather have Maye or Daniels, for example, and find your star receiver either in free agency or later in the 2024 draft? Or would the better move be adding a player like Jefferson and drafting an offensive tackle in the first round, then finding your QB either later in the draft (Bo Nix, Michael Penix Jr. or J.J. McCarthy, perhaps?), via trade (Justin Fields, perhaps?) or via free agency?
That's what this exercise boils down to -- and the Patriots have nearly three months to sweat the decision.