FOXBORO -- For anyone who needed a refresher on just how much Bill Belichick values execution in the kicking game, for the second time this week he dealt away a draft pick for a special-teamer.
The Patriots announced on Saturday that they acquired Johnson Bademosi from Detroit, and in return they'll send a 2019 sixth-rounder to the Lions. It was the latest example of an approach the Patriots have taken headed into Week 1 of the regular season: If there's a player out there you want, you have to be aggressive to go and get him.
The Patriots traded away a seventh-round pick for 2018 earlier this week and received Marquis Flowers from the Bengals in return. While the Patriots are always on the look out for special-teams depth, their needs in that area may have been more pressing now for a couple of reasons.
First, they're dealing with injuries to some of their core special-teamers. Matthew Slater missed large chunks of training camp and did not participate in any preseason games. Nate Ebner has missed practice time recently, though he returned to the practice field for Saturday's fully-padded session. Shea McClellin has been injured and out of action for weeks. And Harvey Langi, an undrafted rookie who appears to have gained some trust from special teams coordinator Joe Judge this summer, missed all of practice last week and the preseason finale. Like Ebner, Langi was back on the field Saturday as well.
Second, the Patriots will see one of the best return units in the league next Thursday in the season-opener when they take on the Chiefs, featuring speedster Tyreek Hill. Though Belichick and his staff are building a roster for the 2017 long haul, there's some value in picking up plug-and-play pieces in the kicking game if they're out there to be found.
In Bademosi, the Patriots receive a corner who can replace Justin Coleman (traded Friday to the Seahawks) as the No. 5 corner on the depth chart behind Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe and Jonathan Jones. But Bademosi's biggest contributions will likely come as a core special-teamer.
Lions general manager Bob Quinn, whose last job was in New England as the college scouting director, signed Bademosi as a free agent last year to help bolster Detroit's kicking-game units. After one season, the Lions were ready to move on with others at his position, allowing the Patriots to pounce and pick him up for a day-three draft pick.