The Patriots just lost by far their most reliable pass-catching running back, so they may have to look into potential targets at the trade deadline.
James White is out for the rest of the season with what’s being reported as a hip subluxation, a massive blow to the Pats offense as rookie quarterback Mac Jones loses one of his top safety valves. The Patriots may be able to replace his production internally or with a new addition, but it’ll be virtually impossible to replace White’s mix of dependability and leadership on and off the field. If J.J. Taylor isn’t ready to assume the kind of role White played as a receiver, runner, and pass protector on third downs, they may have to look elsewhere.
One possible name has conveniently come up in the wake of White’s injury: the Indianapolis Colts and Marlon Mack have mutually agreed to seek a trade partner, according to Adam Schefter. Mack caught 21 passes as a rookie, but his catch totals have declined each season since, and the Colts appear to have moved on to Jonathan Taylor as their lead back and Nyheim Hines on passing downs.
It’s unlikely that Mack, who has gotten only five touches so far in 2021, would be expensive in a trade, and he may not make much of an impact wherever he lands. But in New England, he’d certainly have opportunities to contribute in the passing game in White’s absence.
The Patriots don’t appear ready to hand a major passing game role over to Taylor, or put rookie Rhamondre Stevenson on the field in the first place. And it would be less than ideal to just continue rolling out Brandon Bolden. So perhaps they poke around the league and try to add someone with proven ability to catch passes out of the backfield.
Some of these options are more realistic than others. But production, fit, and familiarity (with both players and trade partners) are among the criteria we considered. Plus, they are all in the final year or two of their contracts. Anyway, here are some possible trade targets for the Patriots to add a pass-catching running back…
Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.