Patriots considered earlier draft day trade with Commanders

As it turns out, the Patriots were considering multiple options when it came to trading down in the 2023 NFL Draft.

On Friday, the Washington Commanders released a behind-the-scenes video from their war room in Round 1. This depicts their general manager, Martin Mayhew, calling Patriots director of scouting Eliot Wolf to attempt to trade up with the Patriots, who were sitting at No. 14.

The Commanders offered the Patriots the 16th overall pick along with their fourth rounder, pick No. 118. However, Wolf asked for Washington’s third round selection (pick 97).

It was a fascinating look at the process as Washington was nervous that the Patriots wanted to select their target, cornerback Emmanuel Forbes. The video shows Mayhew on the phone with Eliot on the other line.

“Hey Eliot, how you doing, man? Would you guys consider moving back from there to 16?” Mayhew says. “What are you looking for? A third? I don’t think we want to give that up. We might do a fourth. I’ll talk to coach. He might be willing to do our fourth. I’ll give you a call back.”

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Mayhew is seen meeting with head coach Ron Rivera to discuss the trade proposal. At the time, Washington thought the Patriots, who needed a cornerback, were a threat to take their guy, so Mayhew called Wolf back.

“I don’t think (Forbes) gets past the Patriots,” Commanders executive Marty Hurney could be heard saying to Rivera.

When Mayhew talked to Wolf for a second time, Wolf offered to throw in one of the Patriots sixth round picks in order to get Washington’s third rounder. Eventually, Rivera declined and Mayew called Wolf back saying, “We’re going to stay put Eliot. We’re going to pass.”

Instead of trading down from 14 for No. 16 and No. 118, the Patriots then traded with the Pittsburgh Steelers, trading down to No. 17 while picking up pick 120.

The Commanders got their intended target with Forbes at No. 16, but they were off base with the Patriots. After the Pats drafted Christian Gonzalez at No. 17, Patriots director of player personnel Matt Groh said they had a good idea that Washington wanted Forbes.

The Patriots gambled that Washington would take Forbes, allowing them to get their cornerback target in Gonzalez.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of things. Had a pretty good inclination as to who Washington was going to take. So we were able to quickly discuss which direction we wanted to go,” Groh said after Round 1. “Teams have to wait a little bit here in the first round before they get their picks in. We didn’t know, but we had a pretty good feeling as to how Washington was going to play it out. So that sped things along for us. Again, it’s nice when you’ve got a consensus on a player. So from the coaching staff, to the scouts, we’re fairly unified grade wise on Christian. That just sped the process along.”