This year’s NFL trade deadline could have decade-plus implications for the Patriots
If that headline seems dramatic? Good. Next week represents an important checkpoint in the Patriots’ future plans – one that could have implications for a decade or more.
That upcoming checkpoint is the NFL trade deadline. Teams have until 4:00 p.m. next Tuesday – Halloween – to make any deals.
A week out from the deadline the Patriots’ record sits at 2-5. Despite Sunday’s dramatic win over the Bills, the competitive goal for the season of returning to the playoffs, a goal that was laid out by owner Robert Kraft back in March, is for all intents and purposes out of reach.
Given all of that, it makes sense for the Patriots to be sellers at the deadline. While there’s been some reporting that they may be hesitant to take on that role, it makes too much sense for them to not make at least a couple of trades. Bill Belichick’s recently-revealed job security with his contract also makes it easier for he as the GM to trade players away, knowing a losing season shouldn’t impact his standing any more than the 2-5 start already has.
Most of the players that are performing on this team this year – such as Kendrick Bourne and Hunter Henry, Trent Brown. If the Patriots know those players won’t be back, it makes little sense to hold onto them right now. Others like Josh Uche and Kyle Dugger are in the final year of their rookie contracts, with it looking unlikely that the Patriots will sign them to long-term extensions.
Some will see that as ‘tanking,’ but it actually runs deeper than that. The Patriots are losing games, trades or not. Moving on from these players would be more about what the team gets back.
Teams have a tendency to overpay for pass-catchers at the deadline (Chase Claypool was traded for a second-round pick last year, and Kadarius Toney went for a third and a sixth). It’s not unrealistic to think the Patriots could land a top-100 pick for Bourne or Henry. The same pattern exists for pass rushers.
Again, this is where some may be skeptical given the Patriots’ recent draft history – especially on Day 2 where those picks would be. But again, we’re going to take this one step further.
Let’s say the Patriots identify the player they need in the first round of the NFL Draft, but want to trade up to get that player (especially if it’s quarterback). Now is the time the Patriots’ can add trade chips to their pool of assets to prepare themselves for that scenario in late April.
Basically, you don’t need to finish with the third-worst record to pick third in the draft. In the last 10 years, 20 quarterbacks have been selected top-10 in the NFL Draft. Of those 20, nine were acquired with picks that were acquired via trade.
While these trades may make the Patriots worse right now, at 2-5 moving on from players who won’t be with the team beyond this year is inconsequential. The extra loss or two the team may take in the coming week should be worth the tradeoff for 10-plsu years of a player like Drake Maye, Marvin Harrison Jr., or Joe Alt.
This also aligns with one of Belichick’s core concepts of roster building – putting more of a focus on the four-to-five year outlook of the team rather than just the immediate future. With the immediate future as bleak as it is, now is the perfect time to capitalize and add ammunition to build out the long-term plan.
So, which players can the Patriots look to move in the week ahead? Matt Dolloff broke down that list last week…