jets taking down chiefs
Joe Nicholson | USA TODAY Sports

Much was made of the Patriots trading the No. 14 pick in April’s NFL draft to the Steelers, and why they did it.

The reported belief in NFL circles: Bill Belichick gave Pittsburgh a sweetheart deal to swap picks (New England got No. 17) in order to hose the Jets, who were selecting 15th, out of Georgia offensive tackle Broderick Jones. And this chicanery occurred after the Jets had swapped the Nos. 13 and 15 picks with the Packers in the Aaron Rodgers trade.

Q&A: Jets’ Thomas Morstead on Aaron Rodgers, high expectations

So it was a double-heaping of screwed for Gang Green, who ended up with Iowa State pass rusher Will McDonald after the Steelers took Jones. Or was it? From Pro Football Talk:

As part of the Aaron Rodgers trade, the Jets moved down from the 13th pick to the 15th pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL draft. Jets head coach Robert Saleh says that didn’t matter.

The Jets took defensive end Will McDonald at No. 15, and Saleh told Rich Eisen that McDonald would have been their pick at No. 13.

“The difference between 13 and 15 in the way everything shook out made no difference to us,” Saleh said.

Do we buy it? Not really. But there is reason to believe Saleh if you are so inclined. There were four elite offensive linemen in the draft. Jones was the only one on the board by the 13th pick. If the Jets were not terribly high on him — which would conflict with pre-draft reporting — then they could have taken McDonald at No. 13 no matter what.

Not the craziest thing ever. But our gut tells us Jones would have been the pick had he been there. And Belichick clearly thought he was going to be the guy.

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.