Bill Belichick NFL Draft
David Butler II | USA TODAY Sports

Bill Belichick hates the Jets. Everyone knows that. But does he hate them enough that he would cut the Steelers a sweetheart NFL draft deal in order to screw over Gang Green?

That’s what people inside the league apparently believe.

A quick recap: The Patriots had the No. 14 pick in last week’s draft. The Jets had No. 15 after the pick swap with the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers deal (they originally had No. 13). Everyone knew the Jets wanted to grab an offensive tackle. At that point in the night, Georgia’s Broderick Jones was the only lineman left worthy of a top-15 selection. Then while the Patriots were on the clock, Belichick shipped the No. 14 pick to the Steelers for the No. 17 pick, plus a fourth-rounder. The Steelers snagged Jones. And the NFL began smelling a rat!

From league reporter Jason La Canfora, writing for The Washington Post:

It appeared to some rival executives and general managers that Pittsburgh was granted easy access to Georgia offensive lineman Broderick Jones, specifically to keep him away from the New York Jets, for whom Patriots football czar Bill Belichick has no love and whose draft he would eagerly attempt to derail.

“They should have had to give up a [third-round pick] and not a four to move up there,” said one NFL general manager who had been keeping tabs on a potential trade up with the Patriots. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he did not want to cause potential conflicts with either team. “Belichick did it just to f— the Jets. He sold low because he knew the Steelers were going to take the kid the Jets wanted to take.”

A personnel executive from a team also picking around the middle of the first round said: “Bill will try to screw them over any chance he gets. He knew exactly what he was doing.”

This is a situation where more than one thing can be true. If we had to guess: Belichick realized the Steelers were coming up to get Jones before the Jets could and he was not broken up about that reality. But the argument he gave the pick away out of spite doesn’t add up. If you look at the other in-draft moves on Day 1, getting a fourth-rounder in return for a three-spot drop adds up. And the Patriots ended up trading the pick to the Jets anyway.

And really: The pick swap cost the Jets an offensive lineman. Not the Patriots-Steelers deal. And that’s OK. Because Rodgers.

James Kratch can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @jameskratch.

James Kratch is the managing editor of ESNY. He previously worked as a Rutgers and Giants (and Mike Francesa) beat reporter for NJ Advance Media.