2021 NFL Draft rumors: Patriots mulling trade; Justin Fields on their radar?

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Darren Hartwell
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NFL Draft rumors: Are Patriots mulling trade for Justin Fields? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots have picked in the top 10 of the NFL Draft just twice in Bill Belichick's 20-year tenure. Might we witness his third top-10 pick on Thursday night?

The Patriots have been "calling around" to teams in the top 10 of the 2021 NFL Draft about a possible trade up from No. 15, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Monday.

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Pelissero also added this interesting nugget: "Teams that have gotten those calls believe that (the Patriots') target would be Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields."

New England has shown significant interest in Fields, attending both of the QB's pro days at Ohio State. And in light of a report that the San Francisco 49ers are targeting Mac Jones or Trey Lance with the No. 3 pick, it's possible Fields is available at No. 7 or No. 8 if he makes it past the Atlanta Falcons (or a QB-needy team that trades with the Falcons) at No. 4.

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There are obvious risks with trading up in the draft to take a QB, and Belichick historically has traded down from his first-round picks instead of up. Pelissero notes a trade into the top 10 likely would cost the Patriots their No. 15 pick and their second-round pick at No. 46, which would leave them with fewer resources to address their other needs.

But quarterback might be this team's biggest need, as 31-year-old Cam Newton is coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign in Foxboro. If Belichick and his staff truly believe Fields can be their QB of the future, then they have the ammunition to acquire him Thursday night.