NFL rumors: Did Patriots thwart Jets' first-round plans in trade with Steelers?
Did Patriots thwart Jets' first-round draft plans in trade with Steelers? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
We all know how much New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick enjoys beating the New York Jets, and that satisfaction likely isn't limited to what happens on the field on Sunday afternoons.
The Patriots entered the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft last month with the No. 14 overall pick, one spot ahead of the rival Jets following their trade to acquire Aaron Rodgers from the Green Bay Packers.
Offensive tackle was one of the Jets' primary roster needs to address in Round 1, and Georgia star Broderick Jones was still available when the Patriots were on the clock.
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According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, the Jets' affinity for Jones was pretty well known. So, what did the Patriots do? They traded down three spots in a deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who wanted to move up and select Jones, which they ended up doing. The Patriots took Oregon cornerback Christian Gonzalez at No. 17, which was praised as one of the best picks of the first round.
So, as Fowler explained in a story published Monday, the whole sequence of events was a win-win-win for the Patriots.
"The Patriots hit the trifecta on draft night -- traded back to acquire more capital, still selected a top corner at No. 17 (Christian Gonzalez) and thwarted the divisional rival New York Jets in the process," Fowler wrote. "Many around the league suspected the Jets, picking No. 15 overall, were eyeing Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones, who went to Pittsburgh at No. 14 because of New England's trade. The Jets' legwork for some of the top tackles, Jones included, was not a secret. When I asked an AFC exec whether the Jets should be frustrated with Pittsburgh, the exec jokingly countered, 'They should be mad at the Patriots. They knew what was going on.'"
The Jets ended up selecting Iowa State edge rusher Will McDonald IV with the No. 15 overall pick. They didn't take a tackle until the fourth round with the selection of Carter Warren out of Pittsburgh.
It's entirely possible the Jets end up getting the last laugh and finish ahead of the Patriots in the AFC East standings next season. The Jets already had a strong roster, and Rodgers is a massive upgrade at quarterback over Mike White and Zach Wilson.
But, for at least a brief moment in late April, the Patriots caused even more frustration for the Jets. For Belichick, that must never get old.