How 49ers trading for No. 3 pick in 2021 NFL Draft impacts Patriots' QB plans

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Nick Goss
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How 49ers trading for No. 3 pick in NFL Draft impacts Patriots' QB plans originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

A blockbuster trade has been made ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The San Francisco 49ers are acquiring the No. 3 overall pick from the Miami Dolphins (originally owned by the Houston Texans) in a huge deal that includes the AFC East franchise getting multiple first-round picks.

ESPN's Adam Schefter reported the full terms of the trade Friday afternoon:

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A short while after this move was reported, Schefter revealed the Dolphins had traded up to No. 6 in a deal with the Philadelphia Eagles.

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This trade could impact the Patriots' search for a new franchise quarterback in a few ways. Here's a quick recap.

Jimmy Garoppolo on the move?

Garoppolo's name has been the subject of trade speculation and rumors for a while, and the Patriots are a natural landing spot given his ties to the organization and his familiarity with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels' system.

Garoppolo is a very good player, but staying healthy has been difficult throughout his career. He's played in only 25 of a possible 48 regular season games in his three full seasons with the 49ers. He missed nine games in 2020 due to injury. However, in his only fully healthy campaign in 2019, Garoppolo completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The 49ers nearly beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV that year.

If the 49ers use this No. 3 pick to draft a quarterback, they wouldn't really need Garoppolo next season. This could open the door for the Patriots to acquire him. There are a few obstacles in the way, though. Garoppolo's contract isn't the most team-friendly deal, and according to Schefter, San Francisco doesn't plan to trade the veteran QB.

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In fairness, what are the 49ers supposed to say? Any other message could hurt Garoppolo's value.

What would a Garoppolo trade with the Patriots look like? Our Patriots insider Phil Perry laid out some recent examples of similar deals.

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Trading up just got tougher

The Patriots will pick at No. 15 in the first round, but by that point in the draft, the top five quarterbacks -- Trevor Lawrence, Zach Wilson, Justin Fields, Trey Lance and Mac Jones -- all could be off the board. 

If the Patriots want one of these QBs, especially Wilson or Fields, trading up might be necessary. The Dolphins moving their pick takes away one potential trade partner, even if it was unlikely that Miami would have ever done that kind of deal with a rival like the Patriots.

2021 Patriots mock draft: Trade up to No. 7 in first round gets Pats future QB

The 49ers also just set the parameters for what that kind of trade could look like, and the cost was very expensive. 

San Francisco gave up three (!) first-round picks and a Day 2 selection for the No. 3 overall pick. If the Atlanta Falcons are willing to listen to offers for the No. 4 pick, you can bet they'll likely want a very similar package. It would be a very steep price for the Patriots to pay, especially when you consider their lack of premium young talent based on the failures of their recent drafts. 

Perhaps the best trade partner for the Patriots is now the Detroit Lions at No. 7 or the Denver Broncos at No. 9. 

The Patriots have nine picks in the 2021 draft and own all of their future first-round selections. They have the assets to make a splash, but is it worth giving up several first-rounders to move up for one of these unproven quarterbacks? That's a decision Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and his staff will have to make over the coming weeks.