With the NFL trade deadline less than 3 weeks away, the Patriots have been liked to just about anyone who could be available. With teams like the Bengals and Dolphins looking to go full tank the Pats have lots of options and it would be shocking to see them not make a move.
Due to having one of the best defenses in the league the Pats needs lie on the other side of the ball. More specifically, left tackle, wide receiver and tight end. Today, I’ll take you through their options and give my thoughts on what the best course of action will be.
Wide Receiver: While a core of Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Philip Dorsett looks like enough to get the Pats all the way, their lack of depth has them entering some dangerous territory.
All three of these guys have already been banged up this season, with Dorsett missing last week’s game against the Giants with a hamstring injury. Past these three, the Patriots options are Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, and Matthew Slater. One injury and all of a sudden, this offense may not be able to outscore the Chiefs or get past the Saints. Luckily, there is an abundance of talented receivers currently on the market for the Pats.
Stefon Diggs: Rumors had been swirling about Diggs wanting out of Minnesota, but when he skipped practice and stated “there’s truth to all the rumors” he lit social media ablaze. Diggs has seemed to change his tune, but this experience may have been enough for the Vikings to pull the trigger on an offer as they have some serious cash committed to him until 2023. While these rumors were heating up Diggs began following Tom Brady and James White on Instagram seeming to indicate New England may be a preferred destination.
How does it get done?: Diggs is currently on a 5-year $72 million contract where he will make around $11 million annually. This deal may seem steep but Diggs has no guaranteed money on the last year of his deal, so the Pats can cut him with no consequences before he turns 30. If they were to trade for Diggs now, he would be about a $6.7 million dollar cap hit for the Pats this season. Sitting at about $3.4 million in cap space, the Patriots will need to free up about $3.1 million to get Diggs here.
The most likely move would be to extend a veteran player such as Kyle Van Noy or Devin McCourty and decrease their salary this year while increasing it next year.
A 1st-round pick seems too high for Diggs, but I doubt the Vikings would except the late 2nd-round pick the pats could offer. So 2 picks seems to be the best solution.
The trade: Stefon Diggs for the Patriot’s 2020 2nd-round pick and 2020 4th-round pick (via Chicago).
Emmanuel Sanders: Reports have surfaced recently that, after starting the season 1-4 the Broncos have essentially put everyone not named Von Miller on the trade block. Emmanuel Sanders is on the final year of a 3-year $33 million dollar contract. So it makes a lot of sense for the Broncos to move him before the deadline.
How does it get done?: Sanders would currently be a cap hit of about $7.7 million, which will require the Patriots to create about $4.3 million in cap space. Due to being 7 years older than Diggs and coming off a torn achilles plus the aforementioned expiring contract, Sander’s value should be significantly less. With 24 receptions for 307 yards and 2 touchdowns this season, Sanders stats shouldn’t have the Broncos holding him in too high regard, especially with the emergence of second-year receiver Courtland Sutton.
The trade: Emmanuel Sanders for a 2020 4th-round pick (via Chicago) and the Patriot’s 2021 7th-round pick.
A.J. Green: Patriots fans have been clamoring for A.J. Green for a while now and with his contract expiring after this season, now may be the time to bring him to Foxborough. Like the Broncos, the 0-5 Bengals seem to be open for business and after injuring his ankle on a subpar Dayton field the Bengals had to practice on. Green doesn’t seem too eager to stay in Cinci after this season. Head coach Zac Taylor has said that the Bengals had no plans to trade Green, but ultimately, getting rid of an expiring contract during a rebuild is probably what’s best for the team.
How does it get done?: Green is on the final season of a 4-year $60 million dollar contract. His cap hit this season in New England would be about $8.9 million, which makes this trade the toughest to pull off as it forces the Patriots to create about $5.2 million in cap.
Green’s value is tough to estimate as a first-rounder in return seems like a no-brainer but with recent injuries and the expiring contract that could be a bit too much as Bill Belichick certainly wouldn’t want to waste his first round pick on a guy who could be a 4-month rental.
The trade: A.J Green for the Patriot’s 2020 2nd-round pick.
Odell Beckham Jr: After a blowout MNF loss to the 49ers, the media consensus was Odell Beckham does not fit in Cleveland’s offense. It was then reported that the Browns were listening to offers and the Patriots were one of the interested teams. GM John Dorsey has denied these rumors but at a certain point, if the Browns continue to underperform he may have to asses his options. When New York was looking to trade Beckham, the Patriots were reported to have pushed for Beckham hard and due to his relationship with Tom Brady, the Patriots were one of Beckham’s preferred destinations.
How does it happen?: Odell Beckham is on the first year of a 5-year $90 million dollar contract, he’s set to make $17 million dollars this year. His cap hit in New England would be around $14.8 million which makes a deal very tough to pull off this season. Not to mention, Belichick isn’t known to dedicate that much money to one player. On the plus side, Odell Beckham is guaranteed just $2.7 million next year and has no guarantees from 2020-2023. This move would more likely happen during this offseason as John Dorsey will be hesitant to give up on a play he gave up a 1st, 3rd and Jabrill Peppers for after 1/2 season. Beckham’s value is probably still in the neighborhood of what Cleveland got him for as he’s got a lot of time left on his contract.
The Trade: Odell Beckham for the Patriot’s 2020 first-round pick, 2020 6th-round pick (via Denver), and J.C Jackson.
Tight End: After Rob Gronkowski’s retirement everyone expected the Patriots to draft a tight end. They didn’t. So everyone thought they’d trade for one, maybe sign Jared Cook. They didn’t. They did however coax veteran tight end Ben Watson out of retirement and sign Austin Seferian-Jenkins. But after Seferian-Jenkins had to step away to focus on his mental health and Ben Watson was suspended for the first four games, the Pats were down to Matt Lacosse and Ryan Izzo.
When Watson returned from his suspension the Patriots opted not to activate him and let him hit free agency. This move created almost $2 million in cap space. But the Patriots have no re signed Watson as Izzo and Lacosse continue to underperformed. With that being said to cut Watson in the first place the Pats must have seen something they didn’t like from the 38 year old.
The tight end market is nowhere near as star-studded as the receivers, but the Patriots can still find some solid options.
Tyler Eifert: When Tyler Eifert hit free agency in March he was strongly linked to the Patriots but ultimately re-signed in Cincinnati. Eifert made the pro bowl his last healthy season in 2016, but has struggled with injuries ever since. If there is one offense that could get him back to pro bowl form, it’s the one with Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels.
How does it get done?: Tyler Eifert is currently on a one-year $4 million contract. His cap hit this season for the Patriots would be in the neighborhood of $2.4 million. So the Pats could make this deal happen without restructuring any contracts or making any other roster moves, which is defiantly something Bill Belichick will take into consideration. Eifert is 29 and these injury issues plus the expiring contract make his value pretty low, so a deal shouldn’t be hard to agree on.
The trade: Tyler Eifert for 2020 6th-round pick (via Houston).
O.J. Howard: Initial reports of O.J. Howard being on the block shocked many as he was the Buccaneers 1st-round pick just 2 years ago and was one of the fastest rising prospects when he came out of Alabama. However, Howard has struggled with injuries most of his young career and with Cameron Brate emerging, Tampa Bay has been using Howard more as a blocking tight end. Despite being a first round pick, Howard’s contract is pretty modest and with 2 seasons plus a 5th-year option the 24-year-old could solve their problems for the next couple of seasons.
How does it get done?: On the 3rd year of a 4-year $11 million dollar contract, Howard is due just about $3 million dollars this year, but his cap hit in New England would only be about $1.5 million. Like Eifert, the Patriots could get this done without having to restructure contracts or make other roster moves. Howard is 5 years Eifert’s junior and his injury concerns are much less severe, plus he has potentially 3 years left on his contract. So his value will be a lot higher than a 6th-round pick.
The trade: O.J. Howard for the Patriot’s 2020 2nd-round pick.
Left Tackle: When Nate Solder left for the Giants, the Patriots had a need at left tackle. They solved this by drafting Georgia left tackle Isiah Wynn 23rd overall in the first round of the 2018 draft.
When Wynn went down in the preseason with a torn Achilles the Patriots once again had a need at left tackle. They solved this by trading for 49ers left tackle Trent Brown.
After the 2018 season, Trent Brown left the Patriots for a monster contract with the Oakland Raiders. So the Patriots again needed a left tackle that looked to be filled by a healthy Isiah Wynn, until he went down with turf toe week 2 and hit IR.
Wynn will be out until week 11 minimum and when he has played he’s looked pretty average. So it’s time for the Patriots to solve the left tackle need once and for all with one of the leagues best on the market.
Trent Williams: For the better part of the decade Trent Williams has been one of the best offensive tackles in football. Which may lead you to ask why the Redskins would even consider a trade. Well for starters, they’re 0-5 and need to rebuild now. But more importantly, Trent Williams is yet to play this season as he’s been holding out since the summer, refusing to play another game in Washington. Despite interest, the Redskins will not make a deal but at some point, they’ll need to cut their losses.
How does it get done?: Trent Williams is on the 4th year of a 5-year $68 million dollar contract and is due about $13 million this season. His cap hit in New England would be around $10.5 million so freeing up the cap space will not be easy. However with Williams extremely unhappy with his current situation, he’d likely consider renegotiating his contract to make a deal possible. While usually a holding out player will decrease their value greatly, that’s only partially true here. The Redskins seem unwilling to let Williams go so it’ll still take a quality offer to get him here.
The trade: Trent Williams for the Patriot’s 2020 1st-round pick.
While Jalen Ramsey may be available and the idea of being able to pair Jalen Ramsey and Stephane Gilmore could give the Pats an all-time great secondary, the Giants game showed that defensively they’re more than fine, but the offense needs a serious spark.
The Patriots clearly have a lot of options here, but if a move is not made with a much-improved defense and an offense that’s only slightly worse, there’s no reason they can’t match their 2018 season result. With that being said, someone is gonna gear up for the Super Bowl run at the deadline. Whether it’s Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans or L.A. the Patriots need to be careful to not let another contender overtake them, thanks to some late October moves.