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Why do the Patriots make more trades than picks in the NFL Draft?

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The Patriots turned the pick they received for Jimmy Garoppolo into second- and third-round picks in 2019 among other selections.

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick has schooled the rest of the NFL come draft season year in and year out, and the New England Patriots were up to their usual tricks again the 2018 NFL Draft.

By the end of the weekend, the Patriots made eight draft trades — the most in franchise history.

All in all, it went a little something like this:

The Patriots made trades faster than they made picks and managed to get second- and third-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft during their wheeling and dealing.

The pre-draft trades

Long before the draft began, the Patriots:

  • Received a first-round pick from the Los Angeles Rams for Brandin Cooks
  • Received a second-round pick from the San Francisco 49ers for Jimmy Garoppolo
  • Gave up a fourth-round pick to the Philadelphia Eagles for Eric Rowe
  • Gave up a fifth-round pick to the Oakland Raiders for Cordarrelle Patterson
  • Gave up a fifth-round pick to the Seattle Seahawks for Cassius Marsh
  • Gave up a sixth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Jason McCourty
  • Gave up a seventh-round pick to the Cincinnati Bengals for Marquis Flowers
  • Received a seventh-round pick from the Seattle Seahawks for Justin Coleman
  • Gave up a 2019 third-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Danny Shelton

Many of those deals also included swaps and tinkering with late-round selections.

Draft day trades

Keeping up with all the moves for the Patriots can be tricky because they come fast and furious. Here’s all the ones that happened after the draft began:

The deal that sent Garoppolo to San Francisco landed the Patriots the No. 43 pick. That has since been parlayed into second- and third-round picks next year, which will undoubtedly be used to make more trades in 2019 and likely set up New England with more third-day picks.

What are the Patriots trying to accomplish?

It seems that New England’s goal is to rack up as many Day 3 picks in the NFL Draft as possible. For the Patriots, those picks are like poker chips. Many are used to add rookies to the roster, but plenty of others are used to add veterans through trades.

Rowe, Patterson, Marsh, McCourty, Flowers, and Shelton were all acquired by giving up draft picks.

But the Patriots still managed to find nine rookies in the 2018 NFL Draft, including six players in the last three rounds. How exactly New England chooses between drafting players or trading down is probably an answer you’d need to be in the Patriots war room to truly understand.

The best guess is that the Patriots only draft players when the team thinks that prospect represents a significant value. Otherwise, it’s a slide down to another spot and the addition of more picks.

It’s a formula the Patriots have been following for years, and it’s hard to argue with the results.