Belichick wouldn't make a trade like the Julio Jones one; what if he did?

Belichick wouldn't make a trade like the Julio Jones one; what if he did?

This week, an excerpt from Michael Holley’s “War Room” resurfaced, as it ties two of the biggest names in Super Bowl LI together in a fascinating way. 

With the Falcons prepared to move up 21 slots in 2011 by trading two first-round picks, a second and two fourths across two drafts in order to select Julio Jones, Bill Belichick told former New England colleague and then/current Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff it was a bad idea. 

“Thomas, I’m just telling you as a friend,” Belichick said. “I wouldn’t do it.” 

Holley detailed that the Pats weren’t as blown away by Jones as other teams were, but he also noted that the Pats didn’t think taking a receiver that high provided great value considering the depth of that position in that draft class. Belichick thought Jonathan Baldwin, in Holley’s words, was "just as good if not better than Jones.” Whoops. 

(Tom E. Curran also shared a story about Belichick’s thoughts on drafting receivers high from 2001. During that season, Curran asked Belichick why he hadn’t opted to get Drew Bledsoe a receiver in the previous draft when David Terrell was on the board at No. 6. Belichick responded by asking Curran who the best rookie receiver was at the time and answering it himself: Chris Chambers, a late second-round pick. As Belichick saw it, it was harder to find an elite defensive lineman -- such as Richard Seymour, whom the Pats took with the pick -- at the top of the draft than a potentially elite receiver.) 

Right now (and especially considering how poorly the Browns spent those picks), Dimitroff’s gutsy trade is looking pretty smart, but was Belichick warranted in advising against it? He had teams far more stacked than the 2010 Falcons leading up to that point, yet he didn’t throw all his picks at one player, receiver or otherwise. 

What if he did? Who would have been where? Who would have won what? Admittedly, these are major hypotheticals that take giant steps into Nonsense Town. There’s no saying such trades could have even been made, but hey, this is a 13-day stretch without games. Plus, you read mock drafts. 

Using the pieces of that trade -- a late first-round pick, a second-round pick, a first the next year and fourths in two years -- here’s a look at which Patriots would have never ended up in New England had the Pats ever made a splash as big as the Falcons did in 2011. 

2004: Larry Fitzgerald, third overall

If the Pats traded the first of their two late firsts in 2004 (No. 21), they would have missed out on Vince Wilfork, who played a big role in two Super Bowl championships. The trickle-down effect would have been interesting as well, as having Larry Fitzgerald in 2006 might have meant another Super Bowl and, in turn, a lack of the receiver-heavy offseason that followed in which they added Randy Moss, Wes Welker and Donte Stallworth. 

But wait! That’s not it. If the Pats moved those picks, they also wouldn’t have gotten Logan Mankins in the first round the next year. They also spent a 2005 fourth-rounder on James Sanders, who proved to be a player. 

2005: Braylon Edwards, third overall

Man, thank goodness they didn’t have designs on anything like that. If the Pats traded a Jones-like haul to move up and take Edwards, it would have meant no Mankins, Sanders, Laurence Maroney (kind of a blessing) or Stephen Gostkowski. The Patriots ended up trading their second-rounder in 2005, but they drafted Ellis Hobbs with one of the picks they got back from the Ravens. 

And if there’s confusion as to why they’d be going for high-end wide receivers in these make-believe scenarios given that they had Deion Branch and David Givens, the Falcons had Roddy White in his prime. Tony Gonzalez wasn't a bad target either. Again, you read mock drafts. Ease up. 

2007: Calvin Johnson, second overall/LaRon Landry, sixth overall

This is roundabout as hell, but it would mean either no Brandon Meriweather (whom the Pats chose 24th that year) or no Jerod Mayo (the Pats traded the 28th pick to the 49ers for a 2008 first, which ended up being seventh overall; they moved down to take Mayo at No. 10). That 2008 draft in which they drafted Mayo also had the Spygate punishment, so they didn’t have the 31st overall pick. 

The Pats also didn’t have picks in the second or fourth rounds that year. They traded their second and a seventh for some guy named Welker. Their fourth went to Oakland for Moss. In the fourth round of the 2008 draft, they took Jonathan Wilhite. 

Wilfork and Brady team up for confusing Intel ads

Wilfork and Brady team up for confusing Intel ads

Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady are on the same team again, kind of. 

Wilfork, an 11-year Patriot who says he will likely retire after two season with the Texans, posted an ad on Twitter Wednesday for Intel in which he designed a Tom Brady graphic to make Brady look more like himself. I would explain what the product is but quite frankly I’ve watched it twice and have no idea what any of it is. I feel like Mike Felger looking at an email. 

Anyway, whatever the product is, Brady endorses it, too. Last week, Intel put out an ad that featured Brady doing mundane things and looking cooler because of the angle at which it was shot. Again, absolutely no clue what the product is. There’s no mention of anything you can buy. They say “Intel 360 replay” but that’s about it. 

Anyway, you can design a Tom Brady graphic, too. As Wilfork’s tweet indicates, doing so enters one into a contest to win an autographed picture. Your art can also be in a video that Intel puts together. 

Vince Wilfork: 'I think I've played my last NFL game'

Vince Wilfork: 'I think I've played my last NFL game'

FOXBORO -- When Vince Wilfork walked off the Gillette Stadium turf following his team's 34-16 loss to the Patriots, he waved to the crowd, he slapped the hands of Patriots fans lining the visitor's tunnel, and he blew kisses to the those he couldn't reach overhead. 

He looked like a man who was saying goodbye, and later in the locker room he sounded like one too.


“I’ll take my time to think about it, but I think I’ve played my last NFL game,” Wilfork said. “I’ll do my due diligence, sit back and see if I really want to retire.

“I enjoyed every bit of my career. I enjoyed 11 great years in New England, and I enjoyed two great years in Texas with these teammates, unbelievable teammates. I couldn’t have any better teammates in both organizations.”

Wilfork hinted at the possibility of retirement earlier this week, and he said that if he does decide to call it a career his decision will be final.

"It's hard to walk away from something that you love and have been playing for so long. But we can't play the game forever," he told Patriots reporters on a conference call. "That's a decision I'll make at the end of the season and give it some time and some thought and I'll weigh different things and go from there.

"But whenever I make that decision, I'm full-fledged making the decision. I won't be one of those ones to say no I'm not retired and coming back and play that game. When I hang my cleats up, I'm gonna hanging them up for good."

If that was the last game of Wilfork's career, it wasn't a bad way to go out. He helped the Texans defense frustrate a potent Patriots offense to the point that his old pal Tom Brady was still visibly disappointed even in victory. And he did it in front of a fan base that cheered him for more than a decade, against a team and a coach that drafted him in the first round back in 2004. 

"It's never special to lose," Wilfork said. 

Maybe not, but the moment he shared with fans as he said his goodbyes certainly seemed to be.