Will Patriots opt for second-tier quarterback over top-flight options?

Now that the Patriots have a pair of first-round picks and a pair of second-round picks in the 2018 draft, plenty of talk has emerged regarding the possibility of using that draft capital to make a move in round one, in an effort to acquire one of the top quarterbacks in the draft. Another approach makes more sense, and it meshes with the history and practices of coach Bill Belichick.

After trading for Smith, Washington invested a surprising amount of money in the soon-to-be 34-year-old quarterback, giving him a four-year extension and committing to him as its starter for the near future. McCoy, the team’s longtime backup, turns 31 this year. The Redskins are hoping Smith keeps them out of NFL Draft QB conversations for at least a few more years.

Stafford’s big contract has him signed through 2022, with a potential out after the 2020 season. While the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2009 has been a reliable starter for Detroit, he turned 30 in February. The Lions would be stronger candidates to draft a quarterback this year had they not selected Rudock in the sixth round two years ago and signed Cassel in free agency.

The Rams have apparently been thinking about this one for some time, as the Rams were interested in trading for Cooks before the Saints sent him to New England a year ago, according to Josh Katzenstein of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

But to commit to Cooks now requires Cooks to want to be committed to, at a time when free agents who have done far less than he has (cough, Sammy Watkins, cough) are able to get $16 million-a-year deals. He might prefer to hit the open market a year from now and choose his own destination for a change after being traded two offseasons in a row.

The Rams are operating from a sense of urgency, since defensive tackles Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh are also entering contract years, and traded-for corners Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib are under contractual control for two more. They have cap flexibility now (since they’re paying a quarterback practically nothing the next two years), but they’re facing plenty of big decisions in the future.bills_065

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