8 NFL Draft 2024 rumors including Patriots’ QB debate, Brandon Aiyuk trade possibilities, 1 trade up team, and more

Welcome to draft week.

Over the next three-plus days, the NFL rumor carousel will kick into overdrive. All 32 teams have used the last weekend ahead of the draft to finalize plans, finalize boards, and perhaps finalize decisions.

And hopefully banked some hours of sleep before the chaos truly begins.

As such, we will spend the next three-plus days keeping tabs on every possible rumor because shortly enough the rumors will be just that.

And the picks will be made for real.

Patriots “open for business” at No. 3 but want a QB

Late last week New England Patriots Director of Scouting — and de facto general manager — Eliot Wolf held his pre-draft press conference. During that discussion Wolf noted that the team is “open for business” with the third-overall selection, and would entertain trade offers from teams looking to come up for a quarterback.

But make no mistake about it, the Patriots want a quarterback.

In his Sunday roundup ESPN Patriots beat reporter Mike Reiss noted that sources in Foxborough have made it known that the decision makers in the building know that their legacies will be tied to the quarterback decision this spring. “Simply put, as one Patriots source said late last week, ‘you can’t win without a quarterback.’ Mayo and some top decision-makers have privately acknowledged that their legacies will be tied to whatever they decide at quarterback,” wrote Reiss.

The brilliant beat writer also dove into the notion that the Patriots lack a stable foundation for a rookie quarterback. Many have wondered if the Patriots, who have needs this spring beyond QB, would be a suitable environment for a rookie passer.

Wolf, as well as Reiss, pushed back on that idea.

It was notable in Wolf’s pre-draft news conference Thursday how decisively he pushed back on the narrative that the Patriots’ roster isn’t set up to support a rookie quarterback, likely because that has primarily been what he has devoted the past three months to doing.

“I read a lot of that storyline. I’m not really sure what that means,” Wolf said. “I definitely feel like we can support that.”

Wolf noted a “solid offensive line,” “good running game,” the re-signing of tight end Hunter Henry and “a solid foundation and system in place with Coach [Alex] Van Pelt on the offense” among the reasons he feels that way.

Ultimately what the Patriots do at No. 3 will come down to what quarterbacks are available, and what teams are willing to offer them in a trade. Wolf made it clear last week that they would be comfortable with the quarterback options at No. 3, whether it is Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, or Jayden Daniels.

Comfort is one thing, but as the Patriots know, legacies are on the line.

Kevin O’Connell jokes about sending flowers to Foxborough

One of the teams that could be in the mix for a trade up in the first round, and perhaps with New England?

The Minnesota Vikings.

The departure of Kirk Cousins in free agency opened a big hole in their offensive huddle. While Minnesota added Sam Darnold in free agency, and still have Nick Mullens and last year’s fifth-round pick Jaren Hall on the roster, opportunities to add at the most important position in the game do not come around often.

And given the questions looming about next year’s crop of incoming rookies, this might be the year for the Vikings to be aggressive.

Even if that means sending some flowers to Foxborough.

Honestly? The best part of this video clip might be the breakdown of Drake Maye and J.J. McCarthy by the fan that asked the question. Everyone is a scout.

Lions “won’t hesitate” to trade out of first round

Last year the Detroit Lions put together a draft that aged like a fine wine. In the days following the 2023 NFL Draft many wondered if the Lions had the right approach, adding a running back, an off-ball linebacker, a tight end, and a safety with their four picks in the first two rounds.

But those four players — Jahmyr Gibbs, Jack Campbell, Sam LaPorta, and Brian Branch — were all key contributors on a team that won the division and advanced to the NFC Championship Game.

Now, the Lions are picking at the end of the first round, but speaking before the draft, it is unclear if they even pick at all on the first night. Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference Lions General Manager Brad Holmes made it clear that if the right offer comes, he will not be afraid to trade out of the first round.

Even if that means disappointing the fans in Detroit, the host city for the draft.

“We have to do the right thing for the organization,” said Holmes late last week. “And if it makes sense and it lines up and it’s the right thing to do, then we have to do the right thing and so say that happens where the fans have been waiting there all night for this pick and we get an offer that we really can’t turn down, it makes sense. We’ve got to do the right thing and hopefully our fans will forgive us and hopefully they’ll forgive us. Now, we won’t expect immediate forgiveness right then and there, but hopefully when the season starts and that player that we selected they’re like, ‘OK, all right, we can kind of get past the –’ But I totally understand that.”

Browns likely staying put at No. 54

For the third year in a row, the Cleveland Browns will not be on the clock until the second round, due to the Deshaun Watson Trade. However, in each of the past two seasons the Browns traded out of that second-round spot. During the 2022 NFL Draft Cleveland sent the 44th overall pick to the Houston Texans for picks No. 68, 108, and 124. The Browns drafted cornerback Martin Emerson, defensive tackle Perrion Winfrey, and kicker Cade York with those three picks.

Last season, the Browns were again without a first-round pick due to the Watson trade, and sent their second-round selection to the New York Jets in a trade for wide receiver Elijah Moore, and a third-round pick in 2023.

In this draft, the final year Cleveland does not have a first-round pick due to the Watson trade, the Browns are not scheduled to be on the clock until No. 54, the 22nd pick in the second round. Will the Dawg Pound finally see a second-round pick?

It looks pretty likely, according to General Manager Andrew Berry.

I will probably have a better feel once we get to 10 picks out,” Berry said at the team’s pre-draft press conference. “It really just depends on how the board falls, if I’m being truthful. So, I’m not sure as we sit here today, but we’ll see if we can break the trend of making it three years in a row without a second-round pick.”

Berry also addressed later-round picks, as Cleveland has a pick near the end of the sixth round, and a pair of seventh-round picks. While many have tuned out of the NFL Draft by that point, the Browns GM considers that perhaps the best part of the weekend.

“That’s probably the most rewarding parts of this job for me,” Berry said last week. “And then probably the second part is when you’ve maybe identified a player that you think the industry at large will either undervalue or view differently than we do organizationally because of their relative strengths and relative weaknesses, and then having the ability to acquire that player because you think that individual strengths align with something that you value offensively or defensively, where they can carve out a role and play well.”

Brandon Aiyuk hints at “fireworks” on night one

Could we see an established wide receiver — and a very good one at that — traded on the first night of the 2024 NFL Draft?

We just might.

Brandon Aiyuk is entering the final year of his rookie contract with the San Francisco 49ers, and has not shied away from his desire for a new deal. “I’m trying to get what I deserve,” Aiyuk said recently to Shannon Sharpe and Chad Ochocinco. “I feel like this season, this season playing football, I figured out who I was as a person and a player — what I bring to the table, what I bring to the locker room, what I bring to the organization. The value I hold when I walk in that building.

“People gonna follow me because I’ve done it the right way since I’ve been in that building. From the first day I walked in there to when I was in there earlier this morning. If they don’t see the worth in that, that’s all it is,” continued Aiyuk at the end of March. “It ain’t nothing else besides that. I can’t get into it. We got professionals working on both sides, so hopefully we can come to a professional agreement to continue playing professional football.”

Late last week, Aiyuk predicted some “fireworks” on the first night of the 2024 NFL Draft:

Might he have a new home Thursday night?

We will know for sure in a few days.

Jayden Daniels frustrated with Washington’s approach?

Adam Peters, the new General Manager of the Washington Commanders, raised some eyebrows last week when it was reported that the organization hosted a group of draft prospects, including top quarterbacks Michael Penix Jr., Drake Maye, J.J. McCarthy, and Jayden Daniels.

Peters had this to say about the group visit:

“What’s cool is we got to see them all together in a group setting,” said Peters via John Keim of ESPN. “They all got a lot of time individually with coaches and with us. They were staggered coming in, too. It was a great blend of that and working everyone together in a fun environment.”

Some might disagree, including Daniels, or at least his representatives.

Ron Butler of Agency 1 Sports, who represents Daniels, liked two social media posts criticizing the Commanders for the unusual approach, as noted by Commanders Wire. Then on ESPN’s “Get Up” on Friday NFL insider Adam Schefter echoed the sentiment that Butler seemed displeased and added that Daniels thought it would be just him meeting the team:

Something? Nothing?

We will know one way or the other soon.

Cowboys “zeroed in” on a familiar running back?

The Dallas Cowboys made an addition to their running back room already this month, signing free agent Royce Freeman. The veteran running back appeared in 11 games last season for the Los Angeles Rams, gaining 319 yards on 77 carries and scoring a pair of touchdowns.

However, according to one Dallas beat writer the organization is not done adding to their running back room, and they have “zeroed in” on a draft prospect at the position.

According to Mike Fisher of Athlon Sports Dallas has their eyes on Texas running back Jonathan Brooks, who is coming off an ACL tear. But the dots are fairly easy to connect, as Fisher writes.

“But we are also hearing that Dallas is very much attracted to Brooks … who is coming off a knee surgery – but one performed by Dr. Dan Cooper, one of the country’s finest surgeons who happens to also be the Cowboys team doctor,” writes Fisher. “And one source does indeed use the phrase ‘zeroed in’’ to describe Dallas’ affection for the player.”

Cardinals in the “catbird seat”

For the many NFL fans who believe the 2024 NFL Draft starts with pick No. 4 — following three straight quarterback selections to open the first round — Adam Schefter’s Monday column is music to your ears.

The ESPN NFL insider wrote Monday that Arizona GM Monti Ossenfort has advertised that his team is “open for business.” But do not expect a deal until Thursday night, as according to Schefter the GM has “told teams around the league that have inquired about trading up that he wants to wait until he is in position to pick before agreeing to any trade.”

While a team could try and corner the market with a massive offer ahead of the draft, Schefter notes it is “difficult to give up the haul of compensation it would take without knowing exactly which quarterbacks will be available. And so Ossenfort is sitting, in the eyes of one coach, ‘in the catbird seat.’ The coach explained: ‘He sits at [No.] 4 and can take all the calls he wants.’

“Thus, while the football world waits to see whether the Giants, Vikings, Broncos, Raiders, or any other team is interested in trading up to potentially select the fourth quarterback in this draft, the Cardinals will wait for the right offer.”

Schefter’s column, which is full with tidbits, can be read as part of ESPN+.

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