PATS REPORTER

Perry's Mailbag: Should Pats target Julio Jones to address WR need?

PATS REPORTER

*Editor's Note: Every Friday during the NFL season, Phil Perry will answer your Patriots questions. Submit your questions to Phil via Twitter @PhilAPerry or via Instagram @philaperry.

I'd be looking at receivers and tight ends, Frogman. I like the idea of taking a low-cost flier on A.J. Green (Cam Newton has worked well with big-bodied receivers throughout his career) or John Ross (adding some speed to guard against defenses loading the box makes sense).

Green might cost a little more in terms of compensation, but it shouldn't take more than a mid-round pick. A mid-round pick swap actually feels more likely to me. Ross should be available for a late-round pick or late-round pick-swap.

The shoot-for-the-moon deal is to see if Atlanta would be willing to part with Julio Jones.

Curran and Perry's Patriots superlatives through four weeks

They'd want a first-rounder for him, probably. He's 31. He has three years left on his deal after this one, but only his 2021 salary is guaranteed. It'd be a lot, no doubt. Pick compensation. Cap hit. It'd be a lot. (Particularly with the cap about to shrink.)

The question to me is, do the Patriots want to spend significant draft capital to try to win this year?

The AFC is clustered with a large group of flawed teams at the top. It's a weird year. Do they try to capitalize and go all out to win knowing they may only have Cam Newton for a short period of time?

 

They need receiver help. Bill Belichick said on a conference call this week he hoped Gunner Olszewski can give the team some explosive plays. Not sure how likely that is to come to fruition, and it tells you they need to get explosive. If the Falcons are tanking for Trevor Lawrence (which they should be), Jones should be available.

It's harder to find tight ends who'd make sense via trade. I'd simply start playing Devin Asiasi a little more to see what I have in him before sending away draft picks for someone else.

Asiasi has legitimate physical tools. It may be a lot for him to play much as a rookie given this strange offseason and given how difficult it is to transition from the college game to the pro game at that position. He played just eight snaps in Kansas City after getting almost 30 the week prior against the Raiders.

But if ever there was a time to play him more, this would be it. Denver has struggled against two-tight-end sets this season, allowing a 61 percent success rate on passes out of 12 personnel and 9.3 yards per pass attempt. 

Yes, Crash! 

Not a bad thought, Johnathan. The Vikings guys are so important to their operation -- they use multi-tight end sets on over a third of their snaps -- that I think they'd be out of the conversation.

Zach Ertz is an interesting name for the Eagles to shop, but I'm not sure that team is willing to start selling pieces -- even if they should be. They have a quarterback they've invested in. They have a coach who's won a Super Bowl. They play in a division that is ... atrocious ... so they're going to be mathematically in the hunt for a while here.

Again, hard to find many tight end options via trade who make sense.

Picked the Patriots before the season. Sticking with that.

Josh Allen has been much better than I thought he'd be. I said before the season he wasn't good at football. Mea culpa. But he's still not as good as he's been made out to be. He has incredible physical skills and people fall in love with the highlight plays. But he still loses [clap clap] his [clap clap] mind [clap clap] from time to time.

He beat the Jets. He beat the Dolphins by three. He beat the Rams after trying like hell to give that game away. He beat the Raiders, who have the second-worst defense in the NFL, per Football Outsiders. He helped the Bills score just 16 against a Titans team that barely practiced.

I think the hype is just a little too strong around Allen right now. He's better than I thought. Jury is still out, I think, as to whether or not he's actually been worthy of his draft position (No. 7 overall in 2018). 

Love this question. Don't know why. But I do.

 

Let's start at quarterback. Patriots need a young one. Someone to build around. As much as I believe he's been overrated through the first month of this season, I'll steal Josh Allen from the Bills. I like his long-term chances better than I like Sam Darnold's and slightly better than I like Tua Tagovailoa's at the moment.

I'll also steal linebacker Tremaine Edmunds from Buffalo as the next middle linebacker in a long line of great ones for the Patriots. Big, young, athletic, smart. Patriots would love him.

Why not steal Stefon Diggs? He's the best receiver in the division. But there are other good ones out there. Let's yank DeVante Parker off the Dolphins, and because we'll need a tight end, might as well go with Mike Gesicki (who's really a big-bodied receiver but that's fine).

Now we've addressed quarterback, receiver, tight end and linebacker. And the Jets are left. This is truly a terrible roster. But let's grab safety Marcus Maye to take the torch from Devin McCourty, whenever that time comes, and Mekhi Becton to function as the long-term right tackle of the future. 

I'm sure the players would like to see that. But I don't see coaches ever biting. Like, ever. Even if every team that has a shortened week (or eliminated week) of practice goes undefeated in 2020. Maybe it'll encourage some coaches to be a little more liberal with veteran rest days, but I wouldn't anticipate it going any further than that. Coaches want their on-the-field practice time. 

I think it's too early to consider Jarrett Stidham or N'Keal Harry really as a solidified section of the core moving forward. Need to see more from both. (Need to see much more from Stidham.)

Notice I haven't mentioned Michael Onwenu yet as someone who needs to show more. I think, even after just four games, we can safely make the determination that he's part of the long-term plan here.

There's been nothing fluky about his first four games. He's got plenty of power. He has the awareness to pick up stunts and set up blocks in the open field on screens. He's intelligent enough to play all along the line in the first month of his first pro season. Core guy. You should feel good about saying that.

For fun, just spend a few minutes perusing some of his best plays on Twitter. That may only be my idea of fun, but I think you'll enjoy watching him consistently get opposing defenders off their feet.

As for Chase Winovich and Kyle Dugger, I think they're players too. Dugger falls into the category of "we'll see" because the sample size is so small. But he's a gifted athlete the Patriots should be able to mold into a capable starter.

Know who cares if the Super Bowl is in March? The league. They'd love to have a normal season because that sets up for a normal offseason and a normal 2021.

You may say, "Well what on this planet is normal in 2020?!? Just be flexible!" I'd agree with that. The NFL is going to wait until it can't possibly wait any longer to make any drastic changes.

 

I guess it's possible. I think the Patriots like having a couple of guys they can platoon as their first-and-second-down runner. Plus, I'm not sure how much you'd get for Michel at the moment. Maybe a Day 3 pick?

His last game, though one of his most productive as a pro, really put on display just how lacking he is athletically at the moment. He had no shot of outrunning Raiders defenders in the open field. He ended up on injured reserve the next week. Injured backs who appear to be slowing down typically don't generate much on the trade market.

Plenty of questions about the pass rush. Chase Winovich has been a revelation. Otherwise, they don't have many world-beaters up front.

But they do have one of the best secondaries in the league. Still fair to say that. And they have the best defensive mind in football running the show as their head coach. So yeah. I think we can still rate them as among the best.

The numbers don't love the Patriots defense right now, though. They're 12th in points allowed per game and 21st in defensive DVOA, per Football Outsiders.

Turn it off and then turn it on again, Nick. Usually works for me.

Just tore my Achilles reading this tweet.

That'll do it for this week! Thanks, friends!