The good news for the Patriots is that they will be getting back the fourth-round pick that the NFL previously stripped as part of the #DeflateGate punishment. The bad news is that pick No. 132 will be restored only because the fourth-round pick that the Patriots are picking up from the Saints as part of the Brandin Cooks trade will be taken by the league.
Said the NFL in response to the question of whether the Patriots would lose the higher fourth-round pick and retrieve the fourth-round pick that had been acquired from the Seahawks, “In general and not in reference to a particular trade, they would have their highest pick forfeited and the currently forfeited pick restored.”
The Patriots, per a source with knowledge of the situation, did the deal fully expecting that the higher fourth-round pick would be lost and the 132nd pick would be returned. But if the deal still isn’t done, there’s one additional wrinkle that should be explored.
If the NFL will be taking the highest pick that the Patriots hold in round four, why should the Saints send pick No. 118 to the Patriots? The Saints should call any of the teams picking between No. 119 and No. 131 (the Texans hold No. 131) and offer to flip-flop those selections before sending an even lower fourth-round pick to the Patriots.
The Texans could jump 13 spots (or one of the other teams between 119 and 130 could jump to 118), the Saints could pick up a little something in return, and the Patriots would still be getting back the currently-forfeited 132nd pick.
If it’s worth $16 million and a 2017 fourth-round pick to the Browns to get a 2018 second-round pick and a 2017 sixth-rounder, moving up to pick 118 is surely worth something to one of the teams from 119 to 131.
The trade isn’t official yet, so the Saints still have time to make a call or two and slide down a spot or two (or 13) from No. 118. Don’t be surprised if they do.