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The New England Patriots in the 3rd round of the 2011 draft selected QB Ryan Mallett from Arkansas. Most experts have speculated Mallett to be traded this season, considering he is entering his final year of his rookie contract and the Pats just drafted another quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo. While, Mallett has shown some chops in the preseason (1,104 yards with 7 TDs and 3 INTs), his career highlights have been celebrating with Tom Brady after a successful touchdown.
Mallett is entering his 3rd year in the pros, which is considered by many to be the breakout year for quarterbacks. If Mallett is to be traded, he will get an automatic and much deserved contract extension. So, what will Bill Belicheck ultimately do with Mallett, and who are some of the teams he may end up with?
During the NFL draft, every viewer remembers the trade rumors between the Texans and the Patriots. The Texans’ dynamic receiver, Andre Johnson wants out of Houston, and Bill O’Brien, the former offensive coordinator of the Patriots may have liked what he saw in Mallett. Of course this possible deal intrigues Belicheck, as Johnson is a legit deep threat outside the numbers, and has been a top five receiver for the past five seasons.
The issue with this deal is that if it has not happen now, when will it happen? Keep in mind that the Texans already have 4 quarterbacks on their depth chart (Ryan Fitzpatrick, Case Keenum, T.J. Yates, and Tom Savage). The only scenario I could see this deal happening will be if the Patriots send at least a 2nd round pick and Mallett for Johnson, but this deal likely will not happen. O’Brien, by all accounts, seems to be committed to his quarterbacks, and Belicheck would rather keep Mallett and a 2nd round pick than have the prolific Johnson. So, this deal almost seems dead to rights. So, who else may be interested in Mallett?
More recently, the Dallas Cowboys have expressed an interest in the Patriots’ back up. The Cowboys have a lot of questions at the quarterback position. The inconsistent Tony Romo is coming off his 2nd back surgery at age 34. More importantly, his back-up Kyle Orton has been rumored to retire before the start of this season. And Brandon Weeden and Caleb Hanie are, lack for a better term, terrible.
The main issue in this situation is that the Cowboys do not want to give up too much for a guy they plan on having as their 2nd string quarterback. Ideally, the Cowboys want to give a 4th or 5th round pick for Mallett, but there is no way Belicheck accepts anything below a 3rd round pick. However, The Patriots may want to consider the 4th round because by all accounts the Cowboys are going to be bad this year. While the Cowboys may have a productive offense, Romo’s key interceptions will bog down this team in must win situations. Also, Dallas’s defense already had lots question marks, before they lost their best defensive player, Sean Lee to an ACL tear. From any indication, the Cowboys will have a bad record this year, so an early 4th round pick would not be a bad trade-off for an untested backup quarterback.
Ultimately, Belicheck is probably going to keep Mallett on the roster, unless he gets a ridiculous deal that he cannot pass up. Remember, when Mallett was a rookie the Patriots carried three quarterbacks on the depth chart with Brady and Brian Hoyer. Mallett does have two years under Tom Brady, and if Brady was to gets injured for whatever reason, I would much rather have a slightly unproven quarterback than a completely unproven quarterback leading the offense.