Patriots

How much would it cost the Patriots to land AJ Green or Emmanuel Sanders?

How much would it cost the Patriots to land AJ Green or Emmanuel Sanders?

LANDOVER, Md. -- Just before the start of the second half, the Patriots announced that they'd be without Phillip Dorsett for the remainder of the game. 

The Patriots only had 12 points when word came down. Dorsett was a non-factor in the passing game -- he hadn't seen a target before leaving the game with a hamstring injury -- but the Patriots would've been more than happy to have him. Their running game was stuck in neutral through 30 minutes, and their top-two receivers were dealing with injuries. Julian Edelman was still clearly bothered by a rib issue. Josh Gordon, meanwhile, had his left knee wrapped before the game despite being removed from the injury report late last week. 

Without Dorsett, it became clear yet again that one departure at that position makes the receiver ranks thin. 

The Patriots rolled with more two-tight-end and two-back sets without Dorsett and they ended up putting together a hearty offensive performance, winning 33-7. While tight ends Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse as well as backs Brandon Bolden and Sony Michel all proved they could be productive in the passing game, the Patriots could use another receiver. 

If Dorsett has to miss any length of time with his soft-tissue injury, the Patriots have four receivers: Gordon, Edelman and undrafted rookies Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Based on recent history, they might be able to add another veteran at that spot for what feels like a reasonable price. 

First there's the price it would require to acquire someone like Emmanuel Sanders or AJ Green -- two big-name veterans who've been mentioned in league-wide trade rumors lately. 

How's a third-round pick sound? 

That's what it cost the Eagles to acquire Golden Tate from the Lions at the deadline last year, and it made sense at the time. Detroit was about to lose Tate to free agency and recoup nothing but a 2020 compensatory pick that would be, at best, a third-rounder. So they sped up the process. They took the 2019 third-rounder and sent away a 30-year-old player they wouldn't be able to re-sign, one who wasn't going to make much of a difference in how the Lions season ended whether he was on the roster or not.

The Broncos and Bengals are in similar spots with Sanders and Green, respectively. They aren't winning anything this year. Both players are in the last years of their deals and would be rentals. Both of their teams are looking at getting, at best, a 2021 third-round compensatory pick for when they sign elsewhere in free agency next offseason. 

Like Tate, both Sanders (32) and Green (31) are into their 30s. Unlike Tate -- who was coming off of a 1,000-yard 2017 the year before being dealt -- Sanders and Green are coming off injury-plagued campaigns last season where their numbers were, for them, substandard. Green is still dealing with an ankle injury and hasn't played in 2019. 

Of course, if other teams want either Sanders or Green -- and one can assume they'll have multiple suitors -- that could drive up the compensation their teams would require in a trade. And if either player is requiring a new contract immediately following the trade, then that might impact the compensation.

But, for now, Tate -- who left Philly via free agency for the Giants last offseason -- is a relevant comparison, and all it took to land him was a third. The Patriots could have three thirds if they receive third-round comp picks for losing well-compensated free agents Trey Flowers and Trent Brown back in March. 

If the Patriots want to add another receiver, they'd also likely need to clear cap space. They have about $2 million in room at the moment. If they deal for Sanders at the deadline, that'd cost them about $5 million in cap space since that'd be the amount of base salary remaining on his deal for this year. Green would likely cost about $6 million in cap space. If the Patriots made a deal well before the mid-Week 9 deadline (Oct. 29 at 4 p.m.) then it'd cost them slightly more. 

To start to make the room required for a move like that, the Patriots could try to extend players like Devin McCourty or Kyle Van Noy. But the amount needed -- much like the trade compensation -- shouldn't be so staggering that it'd be prohibitive. 

The Patriots could simply wait for Edelman and Dorsett to get healthy and hope the group stays clear of the training room moving forward. They could simply wait for rookie first-rounder N'Keal Harry to return off of injured reserve to give the receiving unit a boost. 

Or they could go out and get the kind of veteran whose resume alone might be enough to earn Tom Brady's trust at first sight. It'll take two to tango, of course, but the price of a spin shouldn't be exorbitant.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Youth - that means draft success - will have to fuel Pats' reboot

It's simple, really. If the Patriots are going to avoid staying home again after the Wild Card Round of the playoffs next season and seasons to come, they've got to get younger.

And to get younger, they've got to be more successful in the draft.

In the latest edition of Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, Curran and Phil Perry focus on the last time New England was sent home this early in the playoffs a decade ago and if there can be lessons learned from that roster reboot in 2010. 

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The biggest issue confronting the Pats this time around is their age, which averages 31.6 years old (a 42-year-old quarterback skews that a little, of course). By comparison, the Super Bowl 54 opponents, the Kansas City Chiefs (26.8) and the San Francisco 49ers (26.6) are considerably younger.

Click here to listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast: 

The age factor is why, as Perry pointed out, "the pressure is on for them to hit not only in this 2020 draft, where they do have 12 picks, they have no second-round pick, but 12 shots at the dartboard. Last year, they had 10 [picks] and nine guys are still with the team.

"It's clear they have told themselves, 'We need to get younger. We need to start hitting here if we want to sustain this success.' The draft is the lifeblood of any team."

The 2018 team and its victory in the Super Bowl over the Rams last February worked to hide some of those flaws from recent low-yield draft classes.

"They had a great quarterback when they needed him. They had a Hall of Fame quarterback when they needed him. The defense looked tremendous we know how that story played out," Perry said. 

What kind of draft yield are we talking about to fuel the next generation of Patriots' success?

Curran goes on to rattle off the names from 2008-2012 drafts (Mayo, Slater, Edelman, Vollmer, Butler, Chung, Gronkowski, McCourty) that fueled the second half of the Pats dynasty.

"I have upwards of 30 names from 2008 to 2012 who were contributing players to the Patriots. I'm not even talking a little contributing, but massive contributing...," Curran said.  

There's also a discussion of how the uncertainty surrounding Tom Brady will impact the 2020 draft strategy. Listen and subscribe to Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast on the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

 

That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

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That 617 Life Podcast: Patriots' ties to a Pats-less Super Bowl

The Patriots may have been missing from the NFL's Championship Sunday, but that didn't stop them from being mentioned and having their former personnel play prominent roles in the AFC and NFC Championship Games.

Whether it was former Pats linebacker Mike Vrabel coaching the Tennessee Titans against the Kansas City Chiefs or former New England quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo helping the San Francisco 49ers beat the Green Bay Packers to reach Super Bowl 54, the Patriots continue to be a talked-about team. 

On the latest edition of the "That 617 Life" podcast, Leroy Irvin, Shanda Foster and Cerrone Battle discussed how the Pats still loomed over the games on Sunday.

"You can not say anything bad about the Patriots because we are always constantly producing talent," Foster said. "I think this is the perfect testament to Bill Belichick."

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Battle said it speaks to the dominance of the Patriots the past two decades that connections to their former players and staff are now all over the league.

"That's what happens when you win," Battle said. "When you win, everybody wants a piece. They want your waterboy. Look at the new head coach of the Giants [Joe Judge, the former Patriots special teams and receivers coach]?... When you're good for 20 years eventually you're going to have your roots all over the league. After years and years of success, I'm not shocked by it."

Irvin and Foster said instead of lamenting a rare NFL Final Four without New England, Pats fans should be grateful.

"I wish Patriot Nation would grow up," Irvin said. "By that I mean I'm tired of seeing on social media people just crying and complaining, 'Oh it's boring without the Patriots.' We've had almost two decades of excellence. We're not there. Get over it."

Said Foster, "I was grateful more than anything. Filled with gratitude. We may never see a run like this again."

In his "Hot Takes and Cold Cuts" segment, Battle says those crowning the Super Bowl 54 opponents as the next dynasties might want to pump the brakes a little. 

"First thing I heard [after the games] is, 'Kansas City they're gonna be around for years and San Francisco they're gonna be around for a long time. They're gonna be contenders forever,' " Battle said. "That was the story all day. 'What is anybody gonna do about these teams next year?' What are they gonna do next year? Not even worry about them. Why? Because this is the Not For Long League. The NFL. Every year, the teams that were hot the year before are never guaranteed to be hot the year after that. Unless you're the Patriots."

The crew also gives their reactions to the new Aaron Hernandez Netflix documentary. It's all in this week's "That 617 Life" podcast on the NBC Sports Boston Podcast network. Click here to listen and subscribe.