If the Patriots are buying at the trade deadline, here are some realistic targets
November 1st, 2022
The New England Patriots have been reported as a team to watch at the 2022 NFL trade deadline, that they could have a busy day ahead of them. Knowing the National Football League, that probably means Bill Belichick and Matt Groh will do the complete opposite and stand pat. As is tradition.
But if the Patriots do look to add at the trade deadline, there are some realistic options out there that could help them out in areas of need. According to Miguel Benzan, they have about $1.8 million in cap space entering Tuesday, so they won’t be able to absorb any appreciable contracts unless they sell off other pieces.
That could very well happen, with tackle Isaiah Wynn and wide receiver Nelson Agholor among the popular choices for a money-dump. But for the purpose of this exercise, we’ll stick to more affordable players that the Pats could plausibly fit on their roster, with minimal cap gymnastics.
Among the Patriots’ depth needs at the 2022 trade deadline: tackle, guard, defensive line, off-the-ball linebacker. So we looked at logical trade partners and their impending free agents, and identified a few possible ideas to add affordable depth to the New England roster.
LB Cory Littleton, Panthers
Oct 9, 2022; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) is tackled by Carolina Panthers cornerback Jaycee Horn (8) and linebacker Cory Littleton (55) in the third quarter at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Littleton would take pressure off Ja’Whaun Bentley to be the main guy in coverage at the linebacker position. He’s played 185 snaps in the box and 20 in the slot, according to Pro Football Focus, and has earned a decent 66.7 coverage grade from PFF. Littleton’s snaps have been declining in Carolina in recent weeks, so perhaps they view him as expendable at the deadline. His $2.6 million cap number should be manageable.
LB Denzel Perryman, Raiders
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – JANUARY 02: Jonathan Taylor #28 of the Indianapolis Colts runs the ball and is tackled by Denzel Perryman #52 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the first quarter at Lucas Oil Stadium on January 02, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)
Perryman has started all five games he’s played for the Raiders so far in 2022, but he’s in a distant third in coverage snaps at the linebacker position. Despite that, he’s earned a 63.5 coverage grade from PFF. His experience could make him a reliable piece of the rotation for a Pats defense that could use better overall coverage from their linebackers.
DT Kendal Vickers, Raiders
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 18: Quarterback Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals gets rid of the ball under pressure from defensive tackle Kendal Vickers #95 of the Las Vegas Raiders during their game at Allegiant Stadium on September 18, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Murray was called for an intentional grounding penalty on the play. The Cardinals defeated the Raiders 29-23 in overtime. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Vickers played only 19 defensive snaps on Sunday against the Saints, second-fewest among Raiders D-linemen. Even after Vegas traded Johnathan Hankins, Vickers is struggling to see the field. But as a reserve pass-rushing specialist, he could be of better help to the Patriots. They’ve missed Christian Barmore in recent weeks and could use additional depth on the defensive interior.
OG Michael Jordan, Panthers
Nov 21, 2021; Charlotte, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Panthers guard Mike Jordan (73) is introduced before the game at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
As it stands right now, James Ferentz is basically the backup at all three interior offensive line spots on the Patriots. After benching left guard Cole Strange and forcing Isaiah Wynn into the game at that spot, Belichick might be better off adding an experienced guard. Jordan is a guy he got a close look at during joint practices in August. Carolina has had good health on the O-line this season, so Jordan hasn’t been able to crack the lineup. He’d have a chance to contribute in New England.
OL Jermaine Eluemunor, Raiders
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – SEPTEMBER 13: Offensive tackle Jermaine Eluemunor #72 of the Las Vegas Raiders during the NFL game against the Baltimore Ravens at Allegiant Stadium on September 13, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 33-27 in overtime. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Eluemunor has started all seven games for the Raiders, but he’s struggled to stay on the field, playing only 67 percent of offensive snaps. He has experience at both guard and tackle and the familiarity between him and the Patriots would be a plus. He wouldn’t be a bad option to back up Strange and right guard Mike Onwenu. And he most recently started for the Raiders at right tackle, so…
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