Patriots

Bill Belichick blew it again with light return in Rob Gronkowski trade

Bill Belichick blew it again with light return in Rob Gronkowski trade

I had just hit "send" on a "three Rob Gronkowski trades I'd make" column when word on the trade compensation came through. Here are the trades I had in mind: 

1. Gronkowski for No. 45, No. 117 and O.J. Howard 
2. Gronkowski and No. 23 for No. 14 and O.J. Howard
3. Gronkowski and No. 100 for No. 45 and O.J. Howard

Here's what the Patriots actually got: an upgrade of one of their seventh-round picks to a fourth-round pick. 

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Is Bill Belichick bad at trades or something? What the hell is going on? 

In recent years, he's now done Jimmy Garoppolo for a second, Jacoby Brissett for Phillip Dorsett, a second for Mohamed Sanu and now Rob Gronkowski for... a move from the seventh to the fourth? 

And in this case, he had leverage. If Gronkowski wanted to come out of retirement to play for Tampa and only Tampa, that means Tampa has to give up a lot to get him. As for the threat of Gronkowski filing for reinstatement and putting $10 million on the Pats' books for the year?

Fine, then make him play and you have a tight end. It beats giving him up for nothing. 

Plus, when you consider they just signed Tom Brady (they were one of only two teams to offer him a contract), the Bucs should have been more than willing to spend if it meant going all in.

Think of it this way: Tom Brady's last team traded a second-round pick for Mohamed Sanu. The Patriots couldn't get his new one to match that to get a season or two of Gronkowski? 

Sometimes Belichick is stubborn to a fault, but if that was all the Bucs were willing to offer, this was the time for him to be stubborn and say no. He doesn't owe Brady or Gronk a damn thing. He could have just held onto Gronkowski and either waited for the offer to improve or let the player stay retired. 

And if Brady and Gronk throw fits? Too bad. It would have been Bucs GM Jason Licht's fault for not paying up. But no, they got their guy and barely had to give up anything.  

Awful. Just awful. I'm going to send this column in before news of a Thuney-for-a-sixth trade breaks. 

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of the NFL Draft. This Wednesday at 5 p.m., stream the NBC Sports On the Clock: NFL Mock Draft special on the MyTeams app and on NBCSportsBoston.com.

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

Updated Patriots cornerback depth chart after Michael Jackson trade with Lions

The New England Patriots added even more depth to an elite group of cornerbacks Sunday by acquiring Michael Jackson in a trade with the Detroit Lions.

Jackson, who's listed at 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds, was a fifth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2019. The Detroit Lions signed him off the Cowboys practice squad last season and he played in one game for the NFC North team.

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Here's an updated look at the Patriots' cornerback depth chart with Jackson in the fold:

--Stephon Gilmore
--Jason McCourty
--J.C. Jackson
--Jonathan Jones
--Joejuan Williams
--Michael Jackson
--Myles Bryant
--D’Angelo Ross

It should be noted that Justin Bethel is listed at cornerback, but most of his snaps come on special teams. 

A strong case could be made that cornerback is the deepest position on the Patriots roster. The group is led by Stephon Gilmore, who became the first Patriot ever to win the AP's NFL Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2019. Gilmore is the league's best cornerback and has earned first team All-Pro selections in back-to-back seasons. 

He's not the only talented cornerback in the Patriots secondary, though. 

J.C. Jackson excelled in coverage last season, too, especially on passes beyond 20 yards. In fact, Jackson had the lowest passer rating allowed when targeted of all cornerbacks in 2019, according to Pro Football Focus.

One of the most intriguing players in the Patriots secondary is second-year cornerback Joejuan Williams. He was a second-round pick out of Vanderbilt in 2019 but saw limited playing time as a rookie.

The depth of the Patriots defense has been hit hard in recent months due to free agent departures and veterans opting out of the 2020 season amid concerns over COVID-19. One position that has remained largely intact is cornerback, and barring any significant injuries, it could be the team's most productive position this coming season.

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

Patriots acquire CB Michael Jackson in trade with Lions

The New England Patriots have added another cornerback to their depth chart.

On Sunday, they announced they've acquired Michael Jackson from the Detroit Lions for an undisclosed 2022 draft pick.


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Jackson was selected in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft (158th overall) by the Dallas Cowboys out of Miami. He started his rookie season on Dallas' practice squad before being signed by Detroit.

The 23-year-old played in only one game last season for the Lions.

Jackson joins a Patriots cornerback group that currently consists of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, Joejuan Williams, Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson, D'Angelo Ross, Justin Bethel, and Myles Bryant.