Agent: If Browns hadn't drafted Baker Mayfield, Patriots wanted to move up to nab him

Here’s an interesting post-draft story:

Jack Mills, the longtime NFL agent who helms the agency representing quarterback Baker Mayfield, told the “Business of Sports” podcast that had the Cleveland Browns not taken Mayfield with the No. 1 pick, there was another team willing to move up to take him at No. 2.

The New England Patriots.

The Cleveland Browns drafted QB Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick in last week’s NFL draft, but Mayfield’s agent claims the New England Patriots were ready to pounce had the Browns passed. (AP)

‘You may get a big surprise’

Speaking with host Andrew Brandt, a former NFL front-office executive and agent who is now a media personality and law professor, Mills said he was confident that Mayfield, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner, would not be drafted any lower than third, which is where the New York Jets were slated to pick. The New York Giants owned the No. 2 spot.

“We knew that was the bottom line,” Mills said on the podcast. “We had another team – which is going to surprise you – another team had said, ‘you may get a big surprise on draft day at No. 2 if he’s available.’ It was the Patriots.

“They had (a pick at No.) 23, and they had 31, and they had two seconds … and I don’t know. We thought, boy, that’s going to be a heck of a move to get up that high from where they are. And of course, he wasn’t available, so we never knew if that was a reality or not.”

Moving up that much would have been costly

As Mills noted, when draft weekend began, the Patriots had two first-round picks – the 23rd, which they got from the Los Angeles Rams in the trade that sent receiver Brandin Cooks west, and their natural spot at 31. They also had the 43rd (from San Francisco in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade) and 63rd picks in the second round.

Using the draft value chart, which isn’t used as much as it once was but can give us some sense of how these picks are valued, the No. 2 pick is worth 2,600 points.

Pick No. 23 is 760 points, and No. 31 is 600 points, totaling 1,360. Packaging those two barely gets you to half of the point value of the No. 2.

Add in the 43rd (470 points) and 63rd (276) and now you’re at 2,106. Closer, certainly, but still not equal.

So moving up that far would have taken even more. The Patriots’ first-round pick next year? Possible, but how much would that have been worth? New England has been in the playoffs every year since 2009, and has been to at least the AFC championship for seven years running, meaning barring an unexpected finish in 2018, they would have been picking in the mid-20s at worst.

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Would the Patriots have thrown in a player? There’s been so much chatter about tight end Rob Gronkowski and his relationship with the Patriots, maybe he would have been part of a deal? Two first-round picks and the game’s best tight end is a heck of a haul.

We’ll never know, of course, since Cleveland took Mayfield with the first pick.

Looking to the future

If Mills is being honest, and the Patriots really were considering doing the football equivalent of moving heaven and Earth to get Mayfield, it’s an indication that more than just the Browns consider him to be an elite quarterback prospect.

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels met one-on-one with Mayfield in Texas in the days before the draft, which lends credence to Mills’ assertion. The Patriots did draft a quarterback, but not until the seventh round, selecting LSU’s Danny Etling.

Tom Brady affirmed on Monday that he will play in 2018, but the reality is, he will celebrate his 41st birthday during training camp, so the time to find his successor is certainly upon the Patriots.

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