Notes From Foxboro: Patriots still calling on Emmanuel Sanders with trade deadline imminent

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By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com

Rumors of Bill Belichick making calls at the deadline is nothing new. It was surprising when the Patriots didn't make a trade at the 2018 deadline. So it shocks precisely no one that Belichick is at least having conversations with John Elway about Broncos wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders.

This is a player the Patriots have wanted for years. They notably signed Sanders to an offer sheet back in 2013, when he still played for the Steelers. Pittsburgh matched the offer and paid Sanders for one more year, before he bolted for the Broncos. The Patriots would have made the right choice if they were able to close the deal with Sanders, because from 2014-18 he averaged 84 catches, 1,125 yards, and 6 touchdowns per 16 games.

According to Adam Schefter, the Patriots are among a handful of teams continuing to make calls on Sanders ahead of the Oct. 29 trade deadline. The Broncos are now 2-5 and appear to be hanging by a thread after a pathetic 30-6 loss at home to the Chiefs on Thursday night. So it would make sense to trade Sanders and get something for him, but would they send him to New England?

Because the Patriots are the Patriots, maybe they'd have to overpay in order to win the Sanders sweepstakes. It's reasonable to assume the going rate for an asset like Sanders is a mid-round pick, but from Belichick would it have to be a second-rounder? It may be worth the gamble for a receiver position that's banged up and could use more talent and depth. Sanders is also a great fit for Tom Brady because of his crisp route-running and willing to make tough plays over the middle of the field.

The Pats are always involved in rumors for the big fish, yet they rarely actually move for the players involved in such speculation. But they've shown a willingness to go big for premium receivers in recent years, as evidenced by the Antonio Brown signing and the 2017 trade for Brandin Cooks. Sanders would be a little bit cheaper than those guys and potentially give the offense a big boost.

More notes from Foxboro ahead of Monday Night Football at the Jets...

Jakobi Meyers the only healthy WR

Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and Gunner Olszewski all look like they're going to play on Monday at MetLife Stadium. But all three appeared on the Patriots' Week 7 injury report, as did Josh Gordon, who's already been ruled out with knee and ankle injuries. Edelman continues to play through a chest injury suffered against these same Jets in Week 3, while Dorsett and Olszewski are both dealing with hamstring injuries.

That leaves Meyers as the only WR who enters Monday night with a clean bill of health. He caught all four of his targets from Brady for 54 yards against the Giants last Thursday. The Pats also signed WR Devin Ross to the practice squad last week, an indication that Meyers and Olszewski got significantly more reps with Brady in practice.

Jakobi Meyers of the New England Patriots catches a pass at the 1 yard line against the New York Giants during the second quarter in the game at Gillette Stadium on October 10, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)
Jakobi Meyers of the New England Patriots catches a pass at the 1 yard line against the New York Giants during the second quarter in the game at Gillette Stadium on October 10, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Brady has talked a lot about building trust and how much work it takes in practice. Monday will be the best opportunity yet for Meyers and Olszewski to show how much they've come along.

"Those guys are working at it," Brady said Saturday. "I mean, they’ve been here a short period of time, so try to get as many reps as you can and talk about things. You get coached up, and any young player, they’re trying to earn the trust of the coach and the players every day."

Gilmore vs. Anderson a top matchup to watch

Stephon Gilmore is coming off one of the best games of his career against the Giants, racking up an interception and four pass breakups as rookie QB Daniel Jones inexplicably continued to target him. Now, he gets a bit of a familiar foe in Jets wideout Robby Anderson.

Sam Darnold connected with Anderson for a 92-yard touchdown eight days ago against the Cowboys, and the reason Anderson got open in the first place is because he twisted up cornerback Chidobe Awuzie with a double-move. That's not as likely against Gilmore. But No. 24 doesn't care about what he's proven in past matchups, only what he can do with the one in front of him.

"He's a great receiver," Gilmore said Friday when asked about Anderson. "You know, it's a new week. You've got to prove yourself each and every week. I'm looking forward to playing against him and doing the best I can to win our matchup."

Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots breaks up a pass against Robby Anderson of the New York Jets during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Stephon Gilmore of the New England Patriots breaks up a pass against Robby Anderson of the New York Jets during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

Anderson made three catches for just 11 yards in Week 3 as the Patriots stifled his big-play ability. But a big part of that was QB Luke Falk's inability to push the ball downfield. We'll see if Gilmore can silence Anderson this time with a more dynamic passer throwing him the ball.

Bennett suspension gives Deatrich Wise opportunity

Michael Bennett's loss could be Deatrich Wise's gain. Both guys entered the 2019 season as less-than-ideal fits in the Patriots defense, as they're better suited as 4-3 defensive ends rather than 3-4 linemen.

But Wise has made the most of his limited opportunities, compiling six tackles (one for loss), six QB hits, one force fumble, and a sack, despite averaging just 15 snaps in five games on the active roster. Bennett obviously hasn't taken so kindly to his limited role, questioning defensive line coach Bret Bielema in front of his teammates and leading the team to suspend him for the week.

Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers fumbles the ball as he is hit by Deatrich Wise of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)
Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers fumbles the ball as he is hit by Deatrich Wise of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 08, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

With Bennett out against the Jets, that could open up an opportunity for Wise to get more snaps as a pass-rusher. He's made his share of plays when he's out there, which hasn't been often compared to most other defenders. But Monday night presents the most potential he's had all season to make an impact.

Winovich fined for ball-chucking

Rookie defensive end Chase Winovich made a play he'll remember for a long time last Thursday, when a blocked punt fluttered into his hands and he cradled the ball as he barreled into the end zone for a touchdown. But he got himself in trouble with the league office when he then chucked the ball way into the stands.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - OCTOBER 10: Chase Winovich #50 of the New England Patriots celebrates after scoring a touchdown off of a recovered blocked punt against the New York Giants during the first quarter in the game at Gillette Stadium on October 10, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

As was speculated in the moment, Winovich could not avoid trouble with the league. Per Mike Reiss, Winovich was fined $7,017 for the ill-advised ball toss. It's a fan safety issue. Players don't get fined for handing footballs to fans, but throwing it hard and fast into a sea of people can potentially get someone hurt. So they try to deter players from doing what Winovich did.

It was an emotional moment for the rookie and he slipped up. Surely he'll learn from it. Fortunately nothing else came from the ball-toss on the fans' end.

Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].