Patriots

Future Patriot? It's time for the Broncos to make Emmanuel Sanders available

Future Patriot? It's time for the Broncos to make Emmanuel Sanders available

What a difference a few hours makes.

Going into their Thursday night matchup with the Chiefs, the Broncos didn't have to be sellers at the trade deadline later this month. They were 2-4, about to play at home, in prime time, against a banged-up division rival fresh off of back-to-back losses.

Denver wasn't necessarily a front-runner for a playoff spot, but a win over Kansas City would bring them closer to .500 and respectability. If they could get to 3-4, it might've been harder for them to deal off pieces, acquire draft capital and re-launch a re-build.

But now, after a loss in which Fox Sports color commentator Troy Aikman called the Broncos offense "about as bad an offense as I've seen," they're 2-5.

Time to start selling.

One would think that would be John Elway's approach, at least. And if it is, the Patriots could end up the beneficiaries.

Broncos receiver Emmanuel Sanders has long made the most sense as a Patriots midseason acquisition. He's in the final year of his contract, playing for a team that isn't competing for a postseason spot, and he's a player in whom Bill Belichick has had interest before. Back in 2013, the Patriots signed Sanders to a restricted free agent offer sheet that the Steelers then matched to keep the talented wideout.

Six years later, perhaps Sanders could finally end up in New England. With an ability to play both inside and out, Sanders, 32, would provide a lift for a Patriots offense in need of interior receiving help. He'd help alleviate some of the work thrust upon Julian Edelman in the middle of the field, and he'd provide Tom Brady with a receiver who can shake free from one-on-one coverage in critical moments.

From the sounds of it, Sanders isn't exactly thrilled with the way things are going in Denver.

"I don't even have the answers," he said late Thursday night. "Obviously, I do know. But I ain't gonna say it. It is what it is . . .

"You know. You know the answers. You watched the same game I watched."

Sanders did not, however, take the route other star players have veered down lately, making a public trade request from the home locker room at Mile High. 

"Is the season done? No, it's not done, obviously," he said. "We can get on a roll but it doesn't look like it right now after this loss, obvious. That's what everybody's going to be thinking. But at the end of the day, you gotta remain positive. It's the NFL. It's not easy to win. When you do lose, you gotta find a silver lining somewhere. We gotta do that."

Might the silver lining be for Sanders that he could be sent elsewhere? Somewhere where Joe Flacco, who took eight sacks and fumbled three times Thursday, is not his starting quarterback?

It could conceivably cost the Patriots a third-round pick to acquire Sanders, even as only a rental for the remainder of 2019. That's what it cost the Eagles to acquire Golden Tate from the Lions at the deadline last year. Detroit took a 2019 third-rounder and sent away a 30-year-old player they wouldn't be able to re-sign.

The highest compensatory pick Sanders could land the Broncos, Miguel Benzan of Boston Sports Journal informed us, would be a fifth-rounder because he has 10 accrued seasons in the NFL. Perhaps the Patriots wouldn't even have to part with a third-rounder, then, to land Sanders.

The Patriots have plenty of draft capital they could trade. They should have three third-rounders in 2020 if they receive third-round comp picks for losing highly-paid free agents Trey Flowers and Trent Brown. 

Sanders injured his knee last week against the Titans, but he played on short rest against the Chiefs and finished the game with five catches for 60 yards. On the season, Sanders has 25 catches for 307 yards and two touchdowns despite having missed two games. 

Even with first-round rookie N'Keal Harry on track to return later this season, he would provide more of an outside-the-numbers presence, while Sanders could be an impact player from the slot or outside.

Meanwhile, Josh Gordon is currently dealing with a knee injury. Phillip Dorsett was limited in Thursday's practice limited because of a hamstring, and Edelman was limited with a chest issue. Adding Sanders would appear to be a no-brainer for a Patriots team that's a little light on capable veteran receiver help. 

And after the Broncos fell to 2-5 Thursday night, the possibility of Belichick bringing Sanders aboard seems a little more realistic.

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Tom Brady 'proud' of ex-teammate Jimmy Garoppolo's success with 49ers

Tom Brady 'proud' of ex-teammate Jimmy Garoppolo's success with 49ers

Tom Brady is admiring ex-Patriots teammate Jimmy Garoppolo's success with the 49ers from afar.

Despite suffering his first loss of the season on Monday night vs. the Seahawks, the former Pats backup quarterback is thriving as San Francisco's starting QB. Garoppolo, like Brady, has his team off to an 8-1 start and pegged as a favorite to compete in Miami for Super Bowl LIV.

Brady talked about Garoppolo's early success on Monday during his weekly Westwood One interview with Jim Gray.

"He's done a great job. The point of playing football is to win, so when your team's winning and you're the quarterback, you're doing your job," Brady told Gray. "I'm certainly proud of everything that he's accomplished. He was a really great guy for me to get to know and to see on a daily basis.

"I think the great thing to see if players who take advantage of their opportunity. He had an organization that put a lot on the line to get him, and he's taken advantage of that opportunity. I know he had a tough injury last year, but he showed a lot of mental toughness in coming back from a tough injury and is playing great football."

Garoppolo was drafted by the Patriots in 2014 and served as Brady's backup until he was traded to the 49ers in 2017. The Eastern Illinois product got the chance to showcase his talents in two starts during the 2016 season, going 2-0 with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Since then, the 28-year-old has overcome a devastating knee injury and become the leader of an NFC powerhouse that looks like it'll be in the mix for years to come. Not a bad deal for the man once thought of as Brady's potential successor.

As for Brady and the Patriots, they'll look to bounce back from their Week 10 loss to the Ravens on Sunday when they face off against the Eagles. If all goes according to plan, a February reunion for Brady and Garoppolo in Miami could be in the works.

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Rob Gronkowski reunites with David Ortiz, calls him his 'new trainer'

Rob Gronkowski reunites with David Ortiz, calls him his 'new trainer'

Two of Boston's most beloved sports figures in the city's history did some reuniting on Monday.

Rob Gronkowski and David Ortiz joined forces for an Instagram video that certainly will add to the speculation about a possible comeback for the retired Patriots tight end.

“Big Papi’s my new trainer,” Gronkowski says in the video while flexing. “We are reunited.”

Watch below:

Don't get too excited though, Patriots fans. Gronk has pretty much already shut down the idea of a comeback this season and is preoccupied with some new television responsibilities. He has, however, left the door open to return to the gridiron one day.

If Gronk does decide to help out the Pats' current tight end situation, he has until Nov. 30 to make up his mind.

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