The New England Patriots didn’t need to trade up for one of the top five quarterbacks in this year’s draft after Mac Jones fell to them at No. 15. In fact, Bill Belichick reportedly wasn’t even willing to move up to select the former Alabama signal-caller.
However, one team was willing to move up and select Jones — the New Orleans Saints. According to former Patriots executive Michael Lombardi, the Saints made an effort to trade up, but it was nearly impossible for them to do so.
“New Orleans was trying to get into the top 10 to get a cornerback, there’s no doubt,” Lombardi said on the latest episode of his “GM Shuffle” podcast, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Nick Goss. “I think it was (Jaycee) Horn. They tried, but they couldn’t get in there, they were too far back to get in the top 10.
“But, and I’ve had this confirmed to me by two teams, they were trying to get up above New England to get Mac Jones. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Everybody will deny it. I’m just telling you. They couldn’t get there. Why? Because Minnesota traded with the Jets (to No. 14) and Minnesota didn’t go back as far as New Orleans, and (the Vikings) got a good deal. No. 13 wasn’t moving because (Rashawn) Slater was there, and the Chargers weren’t going to move. No. 12 wasn’t moving because Dallas was going to take (Micah) Parsons. No. 11 became (Justin) Fields. So, there was nowhere for (the Saints) to go. I don’t know if the Saints called New England to try to trade for that pick or if they knew New England was going to just take Mac Jones.”
It would have made a lot of sense for the Saints to draft Jones following future Hall of Famer Drew Brees’ retirement. Taysom Hill or Jameis Winston will likely get the call in 2021, but neither is a solid long-term option for New Orleans.
The Saints could select a quarterback in next year’s draft if they don’t feel comfortable with the Hill-Winston combination. North Carolina’s Sam Howell, Oklahoma’s Spencer Rattler and USC’s Kedon Slovis are projected to be the top passers in the 2022 class.