Rob Ninkovich

Friday Bag: Why would any team want to help the Patriots in a trade?

Friday Bag: Why would any team want to help the Patriots in a trade?

Every Friday, Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry answer your Patriots questions in a joint mailbag, or Friday Bag as they call it.

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Got a question for the trio? Hit them up on Twitter using the hashtag #FridayBag. Here's this week's installment:

TC: Sure. They have a few teams they can deal with. Some have former Pats executives in the mix - Detroit with Bob Quinn, Jon Robinson in Tennessee, Jason Licht in Tampa and Thomas Dimitroff in Atlanta - but the Pats have also dealt with the Eagles and Cardinals since the start of the 2016 season. So there are teams out there. It's finding the right partner to dance with.  

TC: Hello Whiner,

I'm with you. The wonders of Jordan Richards elude me. He's a second-round pick and been here since 2015 and he's got 38 tackles in three seasons. He had three tackles last year. 

He's shown a level of capability this year as a box safety playing alongside linebackers and he can hit but he doesn't seem particularly adept at anything. Certainly nothing on the level of what someone would expect from a second-round pick. Maybe with Hightower down and a linebacker need he gets a little more run. Personally, I'd have preferred the team keep Kamu Grugier-Hill last year. 

TC: That's a good question, Harry. I'd say Gronk. Adam Butler. Lawrence Guy. And especially Danny Amendola. Nobody's made more clutch catches this year on necessary third downs. He's got 29 catches for 324 yards on 36 targets. He's also averaging 13.1 yards on 10 punt returns and the Patriots entered the season not knowing who would fill that punt return void. So I'll gola with Dola. 

PP: Our guy Shimon was so fired up for the Bag, he couldn't wait to get his questions in. Appreciate that kind of aggressiveness! Let's blow through these quickly...1) I still think if Roberts is healthy that the Patriots will use him over Harris. He's been ahead of Harris on the depth chart all season, and I could be wrong, but I find it a little hard to believe that after 19 snaps against the Falcons -- even though Harris performed well -- the Patriots would all of a sudden have a different perspective on what's best for them at that position. 2) Is there a chance? Sure. Eventually. If Gilmore proves himself to be a liability. But if he's healthy, he's playing. The Patriots aren't giving up on him after five games, especially since Week 5 was his best outing. 3) Allen's just not giving them much of anything right now, which is odd because he's by all accounts an intelligent person. I wonder if maybe there's a chance he's thinking a little too much, if at this point he's pressing, and if that's hindering him on the field. We know he's been a non-factor as a receiver, but his positive moments as a blocker have been relatively few and far between, too. Maybe he can use the upcoming bye to put some extra time in and approach his role as if he's starting with a clean slate.

PP: Thanks for checking in, Sean. We hit on a bunch of intriguing possibilities here, but I'll also mention a couple of names I didn't include in that piece, both of whom were players the Patriots practiced against this summer: Lerentee McCray of the Jags and Ufomba Kamalu of the Texans. We know the Patriots have a history of scooping up joint-practice opponents, and those are players who may not cost all that much in terms of compensation. You can find more details on McCray and Kamalu here.

PP: How McClellin fits into the equation will be interesting to watch play out. He has experience on the edge. He has experience off the line. That versatility may give him a leg up on Roberts or Hightower as the No. 2 behind Van Noy. In obvious running situations, I'd still give Roberts the nod, but McClellin is probably the best option in coverage when talking about those three. In all likelihood, they'll mix and match depending on the situation. McClellin's eligible to return off IR Week 10. 

PP: Drewski, I don't think that would make sense for the Seahawks. They'd be getting a backup tackle (which they could probably use) and a struggling tight end in exchange for one of the better tight ends in football. Graham isn't what he once was, but he's still more valuable than what they'd be getting in that exchange. Never say never when it comes to Bill Belichick accumulating tight ends, but I think focusing on the front seven is where the Patriots would go in a trade if they were to make one.

PP: Curran. 

PP: He could see more opportunities if Amendola's knee injury limits him moving forward, T. But as the fourth receiver on the depth chart he has to make plays when he has the chance, and he has to stay penalty-free. Tom Brady's been picked twice when targeting Dorsett in the last two weeks (one of which was wiped because of a roughing-the-passer penalty), and Dorsett picked up a block-in-the-back penalty early against the Falcons. He started the game last week (good!) but ended up playing only eight snaps (not as good!). I don't think a breakout game is imminent, but I wouldn't rule out a productive one. Baby steps.

MG: Combo plattering these two questions. Neither guy has played a down of football this season, and in Nink’s case, he hasn’t even tried to do anything since June with pads on. I don’t care how much you work out, how much time you spend lifting and running and doing agility drills, there’s being in shape and there’s being in football shape. There’s no comparison between the two. If they’re depending on either to make any kind of impact, let alone a big one, they’re screwed. 

MG: All depends on if Brady is truly sincere when he says he’s playing another 57 years. But can we talk about the difference between Brady, 40, and Matt Ryan, 32, reigning MVP of the league? Ryan had to make four or five throws when the game was still a game Sunday night and missed every single one of them. He wasn’t pressured on those occasions. He had his targets open. And that dude couldn’t put the ball where it needed to be. Contrast that with Brady. That wasn’t a Brady game. The Pats didn’t ask him to carry them. But in big spots, Tommy boy made every single flipping throw. It was glorious to watch.

As for Jimmy, the Pats want him here next year and beyond. We’ll see how it plays out. They control him contractually for the next two seasons if they want to use that tag. Michael Holley says they won’t do it next year. Michael Holley is wrong.

MG: The injury bummed me out too, Ed, and let’s face it, we all went into the season knowing Hightower was a high injury risk and was going to miss some games. But an entire season? Damn. They don’t have one player on the roster who can duplicate what he does. Hell, they don’t have three or four players on the roster that do what he does, but they’re going to have to figure out a way. Can’t say as I’m overly confident because Hightower has a penchant for making a bunch of unseen plays and then - BOOM - the big play, but I’m also smart enough to not write off Belichick and Patricia.

MG: Q!!!!!!! My impressions were that if you get him going side to side, Harris is in deep trouble, but when he’s able to go downhill, he’s still got a decent burst and power. I’m hopeful that the Pats give him a lot of snaps this weekend and we can see how it really works. I also am convinced the communication is better with Harris out there then it is with Elandon Roberts.

What’s next for Patriots’ banged-up receiver corps?

What’s next for Patriots’ banged-up receiver corps?

Every Friday, Tom E. Curran, Mike Giardi and Phil Perry answer your Patriots questions in a joint mailbag, or Friday Bag as they call it.

MORE PATRIOTS:

Got a question for the trio? Hit them up on Twitter using the hashtag #FridayBag. Here’s this week’s installment:

PP: Don't hit the panic button just yet on this receiver group, DD. Dorsett's knee has been a bit of an issue since Week 3. He had it iced up on Thursday in the Patriots locker room, and he's been wearing a compression sleeve on the knee consistently for a few weeks now. He played 20 snaps against Tampa and he saw 11 against the Jets last weekend. Unless he had a significant setback, which I don't believe he has, he should still be available as the team's No. 4 this weekend. As far as Hogan goes, that was a brutal shot he took to the ribs, but he remained in the game, and he's been practicing this week on a limited basis. Brandin Cooks is healthy, as is Danny Amendola. A few bumps and bruises for this group, but I don't think it's anything that is going to precipitate a roster move. They have two receivers on the practice squad in Cody Hollister and Riley McCarron, but there's no indication that any call-up is imminent. 

PP: Malcom Brown is relatively quiet when media members are in the locker room, but he's a clown-around-the-outside-of-the-scrum-when-a-teammate-is-being-interviewed guy. Surprised but not floored that Long would've given him that crown last year. I'd say when Long and Rob Ninkovich were together hamming it up in 2016, their corner of the locker room was probably the funniest. As far as this year goes, guys like Eric Rowe and Adam Butler are sneaky funny. Rob Gronkowski has been good for a laugh or two every week at his press conferences. He and our buddy Mike Reiss at ESPN need to go on tour at some point. They're the Gillette Stadium version of Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart. 

PP: Hey, Rich. Thanks for checking in. I'd say the chances of trading for Gilmore are extremely low. Like, zero. The trade deadline is Halloween. Would they cut bait before then after giving him an $18 million signing bonus and guaranteeing him $40 million overall? Given his contract and his play this season, there figure to be very few if any buyers. It would be the ultimate sell-low. And unless Butler ends up receiving much less on the open market than we think he will, my opinion is that he's likely headed elsewhere following the season. Never say never, but that's seemed like the outlook for Butler since Gilmore put pen to paper on his contract. On Martellus Bennett, the Packers aren't giving up on him. He hasn't been overwhelmingly productive in the passing game, but he's their top tight end. And with Aaron Rodgers out, Green Bay is probably going to want as many experienced short-to-intermediate options as possible. Patriots haven't gotten much from either Dwayne Allen or Jacob Hollister this season, but Bennett is not walking through that door. If the production at that position behind Gronkowski continues to be lacking, keep an eye on Will Tye, who recently signed to the Patriots practice squad. He's a more experienced player than the Patriots typically keep on that 10-man unit. 

PP: It's hard to argue that they do when they have other players on the roster who either don't chip in on special teams at all (David Harris) or play a minimal role (Jacob Hollister) in the kicking game holding roster spots. At least guys like Brandon King, Nate Ebner, Matthew Slater, Marquis Flowers, Geneo Grissom and Brandon Bolden give the team productive special-teams snaps on a consistent basis. And they all have to be ready to contribute in the other phases of the game. As we've seen with players like Jonathan Jones and Johnson Bademosi, there's a chance you're called upon to play a legitimate role either offensive or defensively in any given week. To this point, at least, both of those players have performed when asked.


TC: Very simple Wally, it’s Dr. Robert Leonard. Call 1-800-GET-HAIR if your salad is wilting. And that hair you can witness yourselves on Pregame Live and Postgame Live at 6:30 before Falcons-Patriots and immediately after.
 

TC: The Falcons defense struggled with tripping over their tongues more than anything else. That game – on rewatch – is fascinating because the Patriots didn’t struggle offensively, they just pooped themselves. They had six first-half drives. Four of them went into Atlanta territory. They had drives ended at the Atlanta 33 and 23 in the first half because of a fumble and a pick. Anyway, that doesn’t answer your question. The speed of the Falcons defense was a problem and that was at all three levels – defensive line on Pats OL, linebackers quick to swarm and help on Julian Edelman and closing speed of the safeties. To me, it’s part of the reason the team went away from a productive player they really liked in LeGarrette Blount. He just didn’t afford any two-way threat when he was on the field and a fast defense would swarm him before he could plant his foot and get upfield the way a smaller back would. So yes, the dual-threat capability of Lewis and White will be a factor. And I’m fascinated to see how the Falcons play with Edelman out and Gronk in.
 

TC: My Fine Man! Mentioned it to him in our NBCSports Boston studio recently and he shrugged a bit and didn’t really offer an answer other than that he’s still getting up before dawn and working out. He indicated that post-football life – for a player who emptied the bucket for so long every week – is interesting. He’s never actually had a “fall” to himself and his family and he enjoys it. He also misses all the things that a guy who plays into his 30s and has the success he did misses – the camaraderie, the thrill of game day and all that.

MG: Jacob, this goes all the way back to the offseason, if you ask me. No new deal, the big deal for Gilmore, the inability to work out a trade with the Saints brought Butler back to a situation he was desperate to get out of this spring. He did all the right things after that - in terms of coming to voluntary workouts and whatnot - but at some point during training camp, his play went sideways. Once it did, I think Butler struggled with his confidence, ended up losing snaps in week two at New Orleans and even now - despite the two big plays at MetLife - his play continues to be spotty. I think if Eric Rowe was healthy, Butler would be on the block. 

MG: TJ from back in the day! Give me a pass rusher, and give me one ASAP. Cassius Marsh has loads of athleticism but is struggling on the discipline front, and Hightower is not a 30 pass rush a game guy. At least I think he isn’t. Someone who can get home quick would cover up some of the sins from that back end, and we know there have been far too many to this point.

MG: Jimmy and I sat outside the TB12 facility at Patriot Place and drank beer while eating Doritos. It was glorious.

MG: See above answer.