Dealing is just part of drafting; Belichick often makes moves.
FOXBORO -- The NFL Draft expanded from two to three days in 2010 and will take place in Auditorium Theatre in Chicago rather than Radio City Music Hall this year, marking the first time it's been held outside New York City since 1965.
But some things are sure to remain the same when the 80th annual draft gets underway Thursday night and continues Friday and Saturday. One of those would be the Patriots engaging in a draft-day trade -- or trades -- over the course of the seven rounds, which will see 256 collegians selected this year.
They've made at least one such deal in 14 of the 15 drafts Bill Belichick has presided over since the Commander in Chief for Life arrived in New England in 2000. The lone exception was in 2004, when they held serve and drafted defensive tackle Vince Wilfork and tight end Benjamin Watson in the first round before whiffing on their final six picks.
Belichick has signed off on 52 trades during the draft. He's moved up 17 times and moved down 17 times in deals strictly involving picks and made 19 trades involving players and/or future considerations.
"I would say any time you move up or down, it's really usually player-specific or player-driven,'' director of player personnel Nick Caserio said Wednesday during his yearly pre-draft news conference.
"If there are players that you've graded a certain way or that you've valued a certain way relative to other needs, other teams, supply and demand at that position, that can dictate whether or not you feel it's necessary to move up. Or, if you feel like you could get a similar value or similar player at a lower level and accumulate picks, then you can move down.
The intrigue will begin on opening night as the Patriots hold the 32nd and final pick in the first round -- a position they've been gladly slotted into via their status as defending Super Bowl champions.
The Patriots recently have displayed more of an interest in moving down. In the last five drafts, they've dropped back 10 times and moved up four times. They moved up 13 times and down seven times from 2001 to '09.
"There are so many variables that are involved,'' Caserio said. "In the end, even if you want to move back, if there's not a partner, then there's not much that you can do about it.''
Additionally, the final few picks in the first round have had added cachet since the draft moved to prime time in 2010. They generally provide rebuilding teams an additional opportunity to show their fan base they're being aggressive in their efforts to obtain an extra marquee pick in pursuit of a championship before everyone signs off for the evening.
There have been nine trades involving the No. 26 to 32 overall picks the past five years.
The Patriots, who have traded out of the first round five times under Belichick, have accounted for two of those late-night deals. They shipped the 28th pick to the New Orleans Saints in 2011 and the 29th pick to the Minnesota Vikings in '13.
"Look, in the end, you're going to pick a player,'' Caserio said. "Forget about all the other variables that are involved. If there is a player there and you think he makes sense for your team, then you're going to pick the player.
"So I wouldn't say it's driven by any other factors. The reality is we're always prepared to pick wherever that is -- 22nd, 25th, 32nd -- wherever that might be, we'll be prepared to pick.''
Finally, the collective bargaining agreement agreed on by management and the union in 2011 automatically assigned players selected in the first round a four-year deal with a team option for a fifth year. Those taken after the first round receive three-year deals, meaning they reach free agency sooner with the potential to see a bump in pay.
According to Caserio, the chance to tie up a player for two more years at a likely lower cost isn't a factor when it comes to the Patriots deciding whether to remain in or opt out of the first round.
"The reality is you look at the player, you assign a value, you say, 'Here's his role,' he said. "I would say the economics aren't really that much involved, at least from our perspective. Maybe (they are) for some other teams.''
The Patriots also have two picks each in the third, fourth and seventh rounds, and one each in the second and sixth.
Their first picks in the fourth and seventh and only pick in the sixth are the second of each respective round, which provides them with extra value when it comes to executing trades.
That gives them the capital to do as they please, one possibility being to move into the second round as they don't have a pick between Nos. 131 and 178.