Trading up in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft came at a premium, one not many teams were willing to pay. The New Orleans Saints were one of the teams that looked to trade up but eventually remained in their initial spot.
Why did the Saints want to trade up?
Well, the speculation was that it could’ve been for tackle Penei Sewell. There were several rumors flying around, but none of them ended up coming to fruition as the Saints held strong and chose Payton Turner with their first-round pick.
The New Orleans Saints wanted to trade up in the draft, but was their end-game goal to jump the Patriots for Alabama quarterback Mac Jones?
As is with most drafts, after the event is complete, you can look back at what could’ve been. One of those “what if” scenarios surrounds the Saints and a rumor that they were looking to jump ahead of the Patriots for Alabama’s Mac Jones.
“But, and I’ve had this confirmed to me by two teams, they were trying to get up above New England to get Mac Jones. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Everybody will deny it. I’m just telling you. They couldn’t get there,” former Patriots exec Mike Lombardi said on the GM Shuffle podcast.
Jones was commonly mocked to the Saints earlier in the offseason, but as scouts got to watch his film, he quickly gained steam and rose up the charts. Jones was taken 15th-overall by the New England Patriots. He was the fifth quarterback taken in the draft.
It all would’ve made sense for the Saints as well. Taysom Hill has voidable years on his contract, Jameis Winston is only locked up for one more season and future first-ball Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees just retired.
It would be the perfect time to add a big-arm quarterback. Many teams have quarterbacks that they may not be set with for the long-term future, and New England was one of them. Sadly, the Saints weren’t willing to pay the price of multiple first-round picks, as Lombardi continued with.
Jones to the Big Easy may have been a dream, but the Saints, for now, are rocking with Winston. Given his credentials, they should feel comfortable with him leading the charge, but for the long-term future, they’ll likely turn elsewhere.