Who'll give Patriots a lift?

Who'll give Patriots a lift?

The NFL trade deadline is nearly upon us, and the question is: Life Post-54, where can the Patriots find LB help at the deadline?

MIKE GIARDI: First, let's start with the teams that suck on wheat, rye and pumpernickel: San Fran. Cleveland. Indy. The New York Giants. All of those teams are having dumpster-fire seasons. The Browns are the suckiest bunch of sucks who ever sucked. The Colts aren't too far behind despite good buddy Jacoby Brissett trying to lead them. The Giants were supposed to be a Super Bowl contender and their GM just said they bought into the hype. And the 49ers are trying to remake their entire culture. That will take time -- and a QB. The Niners have Aaron Lynch as a possible edge guy who might make sense in New England. No sex appeal, but a sound player. Indy has former Patriot Jon Bostic (more inside than out). He never got the system when he was here, but it wouldn't be foreign to him. Also not sexy. Jamie Collins anyone?? I kid,I kid. Jason Pierre-Paul would be all you could ever want and more, but he just signed a big money extension during the offseason. As much as I'd love to see him coming after opposing QBs, that ain't happening either. You've also got another former Pat in the Big Apple (actually Jersey, but work with me): Jonathan Casillas. A leader. High energy, Decent player. None of this doing much for ya? Me, either. Okay, what about teams that Belichick has done business with, especially lately? Tampa. They're still in the mix for a playoff spot. Ditto for Detroit, although that season may be going sideways again. I won't steal Phil Perry's thunder but I think there might be a guy in Motown he's got a good vibe for. SENATOR! The floor is yours . . . 

OTHER TRADE QUESTIONSWill Malcolm Butler be this year's Jamie Collins? | Will Pats trade Jimmy Garoppolo?Will Larry Fitzgerald pipe dream become a reality?

PHIL PERRY: Could I interest you in a Ziggy? Hear me out. With Hightower unavailable, I believe the Patriots are actually more in need of a pass rusher than they are a linebacker. They have Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and David Harris in the mix off the line. Shea McClellin seems to be on his way. Off the edge, they could use a boost. That's where Lions pass-rusher Ezekiel Ansah comes in. He's in the final year of his deal. He's had a down season coming off a down 2016, during which he was slowed by injury. He's only a year-plus removed from a 14.5-sack season but would the Lions be willing to deal him? When asked recently about the 6-foot-5, 270-pound former No. 5 overall pick, coach Jim Caldwell provided a relatively passionless defense. (Though, who knows, that may be the heat of 1,000 suns for him.) Ansah is still starting in Detroit but he's only playing about 50 percent of the snaps. The Lions have someone named Nevin Lawson starting for them at corner and they just gave up 52 points in a loss to the Saints. Any chance former Patriots director of pro personnel Bob Quinn would be interested in giving up on Ansah if it meant a reunion with Malcolm Butler?

If that's off the table, here are a couple more edge defenders in the final years of their deals the Patriots may find interesting: Erik Walden is on a one-year deal in Tennessee, playing for former Patriots director of college scouting Jon Robinson. He's been used to rush and cover, and he had some decent performances against New England as a member of the Colts in years past. And what about Sam Acho of the Bears? Another outside linebacker who has been used to rush and cover. He's played about 40 percent of his team's snaps. And that's another team that's executed deals with the Patriots in the past.

Tom, any of this making sense to you? Or should we just expect them to roll with what they have?

TOM E. CURRAN: You guys are making tons of sense, but the 30,000-foot view of the Patriots roster keeps chewing at my brain. The team had four draft choices in 2017. In 2016, there were nine and two of them -- Brissett and Kamu Grugier-Hill -- are gone, while Malcolm Mitchell and Cyrus Jones are on IR. The Pats haven't had a first-round pick in the last two years and the only time they selected in the top 20 this decade was when they took Nate Solder in 2011. They project to have eight selections in 2018 and -- if they make deals for picks as opposed to players with someone like James Bartholomew Garoppolo -- then they can get up into that first round, perhaps. As much as the Patriots might want to satisfy the short-term need of a pass rush with a player like Ziggy, Walden or Acho, would the team be better this year shipping someone like Butler for more heat up front? (I know you're just spitballing . . . ) Or would they need to give up picks? Certainly, a sixth-rounder for somebody like Ansah or Acho would be an easy-to-make trade, but as I look at the depth of the Patriots roster and see how they looked at times during the preseason, I get the feeling this roster is built on a fault line.

Patriots react to Ramsey's guarantee: He should be confident


Patriots react to Ramsey's guarantee: He should be confident

FOXBORO -- Patriots players didn't seem all that bothered by Jalen Ramsey's proclamation that the Jaguars would win the AFC title game and head to Minnesota for the Super Bowl. 

"I ain't got too much to say, but y'all make sure you bring that same energy out here next week and the week after," Ramsey said in Jacksonville following his team's win in Pittsburgh. "We're going to the Super Bowl and we're going to win that (expletive). We're going to win that (expletive)."

Asked about those comments on Monday, Patriots captain Matthew Slater showed no hint of disapproval. 

"Man, that guy’s really good," Slater said. "And he should be confident, because he’s very, very good. The good Lord made that guy, and he said, ‘Let there be corner.’ And there he is. I’d be confident if I were him, as well."

Ramsey was named a First-Team All-Pro for his work on the outside opposite Second-Team All-Pro corner AJ Bouye. They make up arguably the best cornerback duo in football, and Ramsey has already established himself as one of the best at his position despite being just 23 years old and in his second pro season.

"Hey, man, Jalen Ramsey’s a good player," Patriots captain Duron Harmon said. "He talks a lot of trash. That’s part of his game, and you can’t take that away from him. He’s confident. He should be confident in his team. He has a really good football team. The top two AFC teams are left, and he’s a part of one of them.

"His approach to the game is different than ours, but we can’t knock him for it. We know they’re going to come ready to play, and we’ve just got to match their type of physicality and also just their emotion and their readiness to get ready to play."

Ramsey's best work as a trash-talker came eariler this season after he shut down Bengals wideout AJ Green. What he said about the AFC Championship was certainly a step (or several) below that in terms of its intensity, and judging by their reaction Monday, it seems to be a mere blip on the Patriots' radar.


With McDaniels, Patricia heading out, Pats now have double the distraction potential


With McDaniels, Patricia heading out, Pats now have double the distraction potential

News about the Patriots coordinators over the past 24 hours is far from a shock.

And it’s not really news if you’ve been sticking with us over the past couple weeks.


(Yes, as a matter of fact, I did hurt my arm patting myself on the back…)

MORE - Pats don't need to apologize for anything

The Colts have been the preferred destination for Josh McDaniels since this started. Aside from geography, there was very little recommend the 3-13 Giants over the 9-7 Detroit Lions for Matt Patricia. Unless a chastened, meddling owner, an infant-laden locker room and a quarterback headed for the glue factory would be selling points for you, you’d go to Detroit 10 times out of 10 to stay out of that the Jints morass.

How will these acorns from the Belichick Tree fare?

It’s hard to even project. Depending on Andrew Luck’s shoulder, Indy’s either in semi-rebuild or headed for a full reboot. The Lions have the pieces in place but Patricia is in his first time around as a head coach. For a dozen years, he’s peeked over his shoulder to see if Bill Belichick approved of every on-the-record comment he’s made.

Fly free now, little bearded bird!

For both guys, it’s time. What else is left to prove in New England?

If you take a long, realistic look at the Patriots roster as they prepare for the AFC Championship – what’s the sense in sticking around until things get rocky?

The best core players are near or past 30 (Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Matt Slater, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and Tom Brady). Two that aren’t - Donta Hightower and Rob Gronkowski – have fairly long injury histories and even if Gronk’s turned the corner, his contract is up in 2019.

Bill Belichick might be done in 12 months. He might be done in five years.

More than what’s “wrong” or insufficient in New England, though, is the simple fact of professional advancement and fulfillment. Challenge yourself. Make a bunch more money. Who knows, if you’re McDaniels, maybe you follow the same trajectory as Belichick and win five Super Bowls.

The “brain drain” can be stanched at the coordinator level by simple elevations of current assistants. Brian Flores and Chad O’Shea are the likeliest candidates. But there are other places it can flow. 

Every coach that departs a program needs lieutenants to bring with him who can pass on his vision to the team he’ll lead.

Fortunately, the GMs in Detroit and Indy – Bob Quinn and Chris Ballard – already have their economic and personnel philosophies in place. But, generally, coaches like to bring with the players who are can interpret and serve as go-betweens. 

Over his first two seasons in New England, Belichick brought aboard Anthony Pleasant, Bryan Cox, Bobby Hamilton, Roman Phifer, Antonio Langham and Otis Smith. He also brought coaches like Eric Mangini and front-office execs like Scott Pioli. 

And the outflow was what got sticky when Mangini left to coach the Jets and was perceived by Belichick to be pilfering players and coaches before he was even out of Gillette Stadium. 

Here’s a list of the Patriots who’ll be up at the end of this season. Here are the ones who’ll be up at the end of the 2018 season. Highlighting the list of guys expiring after 2019 is Brady.

You can rest assured McDaniels and Patricia are both familiar with all those names.

Before anyone goes anywhere, the 2017 Patriots have a chance to add another line to everyone’s resume. In years past, the interview process didn’t seem to hinder either man because they were both coming back. Now, with both coordinators committed to leaving, we’ll see how well the balance is struck.