It makes sense that the Patriots would try to trade backup quarterback Ryan Mallett. It's been speculated from the beginning that the Patriots might try to flip Mallett for a higher pick.
The Patriots don't have the glaring need at quarterback that some other teams have, so perhaps the value could be felt better elsewhere on the roster.
The questions then are the following:
What would be the compensation?
Mallett was regarded as a first round talent coming out of college. One of the reasons he slid out of the first round was reported drug use, but he has stayed out of trouble in New England.
The Patriots drafted him in the third round, and it's fair to guess they want more than that back in return if they are to trade him — both as a result of the time and effort they put into his development, as well as him keeping his nose clean.
The problem is, there aren't many examples of an inexperienced backup being traded for high draft pick compensation. There are only two recent ones:
- The Chargers traded Charlie Whitehurst and the 60th pick in the 2011 draft to the Seahawks for the 40th pick in 2011 and a third round pick in 2012.
- The Seahawks traded Matt Flynn to the Raiders for a 2014 fifth-round pick and a 2015 conditional pick.
We'll have to see if the Flynn trade works out for the Raiders, but he is not the arm talent Mallett is, but he is more polished in his ability to read defenses and make quick decisions with the ball.
It's hard to get an idea for what Mallett could draw in a trade given the price tag of the other two quarterbacks listed above, but a team that sees Mallett as a fit could be willing to make an aggressive move — especially if they don't like this year's shaky crop of quarterbacks.
Who are potential suitors?
There aren't many teams that still haven't provided a solution to their quarterback controversy this offseason.
The Eagles could use a quarterback, even though they already have Michael Vick and Nick Foles on the roster. Mallett's big arm would be an intriguing combination with the speed of DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, but if head coach Chip Kelly's offense looks like it did at Oregon, he'll be looking for a quarterback with some legs — in 2010, Darron Thomas had 93 rush attempts; in 2012, Marcus Mariota had 106 rush attempts.
The Titans, Browns, and Jaguars are all among teams that have a need for a new starting quarterback, where Mallett could fit.
In Tennessee, there are still some questions around the development of Jake Locker. There's some pressure on him to make strides in his third year, after throwing 10 touchdowns and 11 interceptions in 11 games as a starter in 2012.
Browns general manager Michael Lombardi has a close connection with Bill Belichick, and no connection to quarterback Brandon Weeden, despite his status as a first-round pick in 2012. The trouble there is he wasn't necessarily bad enough to completely give up on him, so the Browns have to be careful how much they invest at the quarterback position.
With reports that indicate Jaguars quarterback Blaine Gabbert has an accountability issue and box scores that indicate he has a performance issue (5.6 career YPA, 70.2 career passer rating), the odds are stacked against him as their long-term starter. Much like the Browns, the Jaguars new regime has no attachment to the old starting quarterback.
We don't know whether the Patriots are shopping Mallett, but if they want to, they could possibly work something out with one of those three teams.
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