New England Patriots

New England Patriots

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 15: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on during the fourth quarter against the Las Vegas Raiders at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

The New England Patriots’ season is sunk. There’s no coming back from this 1-5 start. They don’t have nearly enough talent on the roster. Bill Belichick and his coaching staff are having a terrible year.

So, it’s time to sell.

That doesn’t mean the Patriots need to have the proverbial “fire sale,” as in stripping the whole thing down to the foundation, then lining the foundation with dynamite and pushing the plunger. But there are certain players who could be out the door for nothing come next March, and so if the Patriots don’t intend to re-sign said players or the players don’t want to stay, the Pats owe it to themselves to trade them before the Oct. 31 deadline.

FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 17: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks on the field prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

FOXBOROUGH, MA: Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots walks on the field prior to a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on Sept. 17, 2023. (Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

They owe it to themselves because they’ve dug in a roster hole that could take years to escape for Bill Belichick, or whoever picks the players going forward. Belichick might need an arm-twist in order to sell off pieces, because he may still believe that “five losses doesn’t kill anyone’s season” and he could turn the operation around in a major way.

But he won’t, and it’s his fault, because he’s also the de facto GM in addition to the head coach. It’s for the best that the Patriots think about the future, even just a little bit. Can’t focus entirely on the Bills, who they won’t beat anyway on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Time to focus on getting value for whatever you have that is of any value, load up for the draft, and decide who to keep.

Despite the inescapable feeling that Belichick is approaching the end of the road in New England, that doesn’t mean the Patriots shouldn’t keep anyone at all for the long-term. The 2023 draft class generally deserves to get a second year and see how they develop. Everyone else is fair game. Let’s take a look at the most interesting cases on the roster…

  • WR Kendrick Bourne

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - OCTOBER 15: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots runs after a catch during the second quarter at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 15: Kendrick Bourne #84 of the New England Patriots runs after a catch during the second quarter at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    Believe it or not, Bourne is on pace for 79 catches, 870 yards, and six touchdowns this season. Strong numbers, considering the state of the offense.

    Bourne has continued to show up and compete amid the Patriots’ losing streak. It’s a great look for him. On the trade market, he would really help an NFC team that could use a complementary receiver, and/or depth to keep up with the offenses in San Francisco and Philadelphia. The Rams, Seahawks, Lions, or Buccaneers might make sense there.

    Bourne is in the final year of a three-year, $15 million contract with the Patriots, and considering his ups and downs and the run-ins he’s had with the coaching staff, he might want a fresh start somewhere other than New England.  But if he wants to stay, he’s worth considering for an extension as a solid building block, as the offense looks to replenish some high-end talent.

  • TE Hunter Henry

    Sep 17, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry (85) catches a pass during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

    Sept. 17, 2023; Foxborough, MA: New England Patriots tight end Hunter Henry catches a pass during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. (Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports)

    Would the Patriots trade one of their team captains? That mere distinction shows that Belichick and the Pats have become huge fans of Henry’s work both on and off the field. He’s another player who has done his best in these dire times, generally plays the right way, and conducts himself like a consummate pro.

    That’s a guy worth keeping around for the next era. So, the Patriots have a decision to make there. He’s in the third and final year of his $37.5 million contract with the Patriots, and there’s little reason to believe he can’t get another, similar deal on the open market after a solid run in New England.

    But if the Pats don’t intend to sign Henry to an extension, they should see if there are any interested suitors at the trade deadline who want to add a legit pass-catching tight end. Perhaps that is when the Rams, Seahawks, or Bucs would make the call.

  • WR DeVante Parker

    Devante Parker

    LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – OCTOBER 15: DeVante Parker #1 of the New England Patriots drops a pass while defended by Marcus Epps #1 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the fourth quarter at Allegiant Stadium on October 15, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

    Parker may have signed an extension with the Patriots in the off-season, but it’s still a tradable contract that was signed for the purpose of clearing cap space. And they’d create a little space by trading him any of the next three years after June 1, too.

    But there’s a problem or three. Parker’s production is way down, and he’s coming off a pretty bad look in Las Vegas with his dropped fourth-quarter catch and lack of accountability after the fact. If he has any trade value at all, it’s likely as a swap of low-round picks. So, maybe the Patriots keep him around for now and reassess his real long-term value to the team in the off-season. It doesn’t feel like he has any, right now.

  • WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - SEPTEMBER 24: JuJu Smith-Schuster #7 of the New England Patriots runs for a first down as C.J. Mosley #57 of the New York Jets tackles him in the second quarter of a game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2023 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ: JuJu Smith-Schuster of the New England Patriots runs for a first down as C.J. Mosley of the New York Jets tackles him in the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on Sept. 24, 2023. (Elsa/Getty Images)

    Smith-Schuster’s trade value is all but nonexistent. He’s off to a frustratingly bad start and his knee situation feels like something no other team would touch, especially considering he’s signed for the next two seasons at an average salary of $6.75 million and cap hits over $10M.

    But this is also a “cut your losses” type of situation with a receiver that simply hasn’t worked out and, if Belichick isn’t back next year, feels like a guy who should be out the door along with him. So if another team is willing to take on JuJu and gamble that he’ll put it together for them down the stretch, it should be strongly considered.

  • TE Mike Gesicki

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - SEPTEMBER 10: Mike Gesicki #88 of the New England Patriots runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – SEPTEMBER 10: Mike Gesicki #88 of the New England Patriots runs the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium on September 10, 2023 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

    Gesicki would likely fetch nothing more than a late-round draft pick in a trade, but he’s on short money and has flashed his talent at times with the Patriots. Perhaps a team who wants a complementary/depth weapon at TE would take a look at Gesicki.

  • S Kyle Dugger

    Jan 1, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (23) runs for a touchdown after intercepting the ball during the second half of agame against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots safety Kyle Dugger (Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

    As we turn to the defensive side of the ball, Dugger is among their key long-term decisions. Do they want to see it through with the talented Dugger, who has developed into a productive, versatile safety and is in his prime at age 27?

    The sticking point with Dugger is that he just does not play a premium position. Dynamic safeties are nice to have, but not essential to a great defense like a high-end cornerback or pass-rusher would be. Perhaps the Patriots’ defensive payroll would be better spent elsewhere.

    So, if they don’t plan on keeping Dugger, they should absolutely see what they could get for him in a trade. It wouldn’t be insane to project a lower mid-round draft pick for Dugger, especially if he agrees to sign an extension with whoever gets him. But if he does re-sign in New England, it wouldn’t be a big surprise and not a move to crap on.

  • OLB Josh Uche

    Dec 18, 2022; Paradise, Nevada, USA; New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche (55) celebrates after getting a sack against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second half at Allegiant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    New England Patriots linebacker Josh Uche (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)

    Uche has become a very good pass-rusher into his fourth year in New England, but he’s never really been a great fit for what the Patriots ask their outside linebackers to do, which is to set the edge and defend the run equally as well as they get after quarterbacks. Anfernee Jennings is less talented than Uche, but he’s a better overall fit.

    So, Uche should have some trade value for a team that lets edge rushers pin their ears back and freely rush the QB more. He may not get significant draft capital back in return, but he has the talent to potentially pop for a contender similarly to Haason Reddick in Philadelphia.

    Not to mention, Uche isn’t a guy the Patriots typically pay, anyway. So, he should be treated like a trade chip and a nice rental for a team that has bigger plans in mind for 2023.

  • OT Trent Brown

    Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) in action during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 10, 2023; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots offensive tackle Trent Brown (77) in action during the second half against the Philadelphia Eagles at Gillette Stadium. Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

    The Patriots have held onto Brown as long as they can. With the season circling the drain, it’s time to move on to the next era of Patriots tackles. That’s another big problem on the roster, which can only be remedied with a high draft pick or an expensive free agent.

    But Brown is a guy who should be shipped to a contender that might have a missing piece on their O-line, or wants to make an upgrade. And since Brown does play a premium offensive position, maybe he could get a surprisingly good return. He should absolutely be coming up in trade conversations.

  • Who To Keep?

    Dec 6, 2020; Inglewood, California, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Cam Newton (1) and New England Patriots center David Andrews (60) point to the Los Angeles Chargers defense during the second quarter at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

    Dec. 6, 2020; Inglewood, CA: New England Patriots center David Andrews points to the Los Angeles Chargers defense during a game at SoFi Stadium. (Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports)

    Longtime Patriots captain David Andrews represents one of the last remnants of the Tom Brady era, as a top leader on the team and another who can be relied upon to show up, work hard, and compete every week. So, even though the Patriots might want to wipe themselves clean of the Belichick-Brady regime, Andrews is still worth keeping for the next era.

    Defensive end Deatrich Wise Jr. became a team captain in 2023, and is signed through 2024. He’s always been one of the hardest working men in Foxboro. He probably wouldn’t have a ton of value on the trade market, so he’s a no-brainer to keep just as a good example for new faces coming in. Put Ja’Whaun Bentley and Jonathan Jones on that list, too, while we’re at it.

    Everyone else should be at least somewhat touchable, provided they’re healthy and not a rookie, and could help a team this year. The Patriots desperately need to infuse their roster with talent, and the best way for them to accomplish that is at the draft.

    So, let the selling begin.

  • Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    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. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

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