Patriots Week 6 Mailbag: Weapons talk

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

After a week off for the bye (that we all definitely got to plan for and enjoy), the Patriots Mailbag returns!

Even though there's now been two weeks to salivate over the chess match that is Patriots vs. Broncos, you guys seem more interested in the state of the current roster. Who could be added, and who may be on their way out?

With the trade deadline just a few weeks away, let's see what Patriots Nation has on their minds...

Note: All of these questions came in before Friday's news of a new Patriots player testing positive for COVID-19.

So far in 2020, the Patriots have the league's 18th ranked run defense, allowing 115 rushing yards per game. Last year, they ranked eighth, allowing just over 100. It seems fair to call that a regression, albeit an unsurprising one given some of their losses in free agency (Danny Shelton) and from opt outs (Dont'a Hightower, Patrick Chung).

Luckily, the team has some in-house additions that should help as the season goes on. We haven't seem much from the trio of rookie linebackers, but once they get more comfortable (and Josh Uche gets healthy), they should be factors in the ground game. There's also Beau Allen, who has been out since training camp with a lower-body injury.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 13: Anfernee Jennings #58 of the New England Patriots tackles Jordan Howard #34 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Gillette Stadium on September 13, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The fact the Patriots kept Allen on the initial 53-man roster before putting him on IR means they believe he can return at some point this season. However, adding a defensive tackle like Carl Davis to the roster indicates they aren't expecting him in the near future. Without knowing the details of his injury, that's the best answer I can give right now. Maybe around Thanksgiving?

Sep 8, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Beau Allen (91) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 8, 2019; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive tackle Beau Allen (91) during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

I don't think they do. As I've stated in the past, I believe the overarching roster building goal right now is freedom and flexibility during the upcoming offseason. Acquiring any top-end receiver will cut into the financial and/or draft capitol the team would have available next March. If they're looking for depth, they have a number of players on the practice squad they're high on, including Isaiah Zuber and Devin Ross.

The rumors will continue around guys like Julio Jones and AJ Green, as they have for years. But unless a team gets stupid and drops the perfect offer in  Bill Belichick's lap, I wouldn't count on a move.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Zuber #19 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Isaiah Zuber #19 of the New England Patriots runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

Don't hold your breath on a trading deadline move this year. As Bill Belichick pointed out on Thursday, it's likely the trade deadline will be less active all around this year, following the trend set during roster cut downs. A combination of lack of preseason tape and general uneasiness about player movement due to COVID makes any kind of transaction difficult in 2020.

However, if the Patriots do make a move, look for them to add a depth piece on either the offensive or defensive line. With injuries and positive COVID tests piling up at both spots, it would be the most logical option.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 27: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on before the game against the Las Vegas Raiders at Gillette Stadium on September 27, 2020 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

I'll start with Asiasi. He had a great training camp, and the 'hype' around him being an 'impact guy' felt real. While overall is usage has been limited, his snap counts were increasing through the first three weeks before playing just eight snaps against the Chiefs. I don't believe the sudden decrease was due to anything he did wrong. Instead, it seemed like the product of a game plan for a game without the starting quarterback against a weak run defense in KC. In that situation, it makes more sense to go with the better run blocker in Izzo. Denver has struggled at times covering tight ends this year, so we'll see if Asiasi gets more reps this week.

As for Keene, yes he has not yet been active this season. Given that his injury was to his neck, it would make sense that the Patriots want to be extra cautious with him. His H-Back skillset would be a great fit in the Cam Newton offense, and I think they would love to have him out there, but it doesn't make sense to rush him back right now.

Dalton Keene running with the football at Patriots Training Camp. Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots.
Dalton Keene running with the football at Patriots Training Camp. Photo courtesy of the New England Patriots.

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Alex Barth is a writer and 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. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].