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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Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

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USA TODAY Sports

Could trick-shot kicker return to Patriots in 2020 after practice squad release?

FOXBORO -- The New England Patriots' rare instability at kicker has forced them to get creative.

The Patriots raised a few eyebrows Wednesday by signing Josh Gable -- a "YouTube star" with no college football kicking experience best known for his trick shot videos -- to their practice squad.

Gable's tenure in New England was short-lived, as the Patriots released him Friday.

So, why use a practice squad spot on a kicker only to cut him two days later?

"We had a spot available on the practice squad, and it gave us an opportunity to look at a younger kicker," head coach Bill Belichick said Friday.

" ... Rather than just (have him) come in and do a workout, we were actually able to (have him) kick with the team and put him on the practice squad for a couple days."

Belichick said the Patriots have no plans to move away from Nick Folk as their starting kicker this season. 

But getting Gable in for essentially a multi-day tryout allowed New England to explore a potential kicking option for 2020.

"We'll worry about that next year," Belichick said. " ... Put that in the bank, and maybe it comes up later on at some point in time down the road. Maybe it doesn’t. I’m not sure."

Such is the reality for the Patriots, who lost Stephen Gostkowski to season-ending hip surgery in October and have cycled through Mike Nugent, Kai Forbath, Folk and Younghoe Koo (practice squad) since.

Gostkowski turns 36 in January and is entering the final year of his contract, so Belichick has good reason to get a head start on contingency kicking options for 2020.

That's assuming New England doesn't stick with Folk: The veteran has been the most consistent of Gostkowski's replacements this season, connecting on eight of 11 field goals and making all four of his extra-point attempts.

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N'Keal Harry using big play vs. Chiefs as a reminder of his potential

N'Keal Harry using big play vs. Chiefs as a reminder of his potential

FOXBORO -- At the moment, N'Keal Harry will take positive reinforcement wherever he can get it.

The New England Patriots rookie had just one reception in last Sunday's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. He made the most of it, though, breaking multiple tackles and diving for what should have been ruled a touchdown.

For 21-year-old rookie with just five catches on 10 targets through four NFL games, the play was a reminder to himself and the Patriots of what he's capable of in space with the ball in his hands.

"Yeah, definitely," Harry said Friday when asked if that play was a confidence boost for him. "It kind of felt like some of the stuff I did in college, just getting the ball in my hand and being able to run with it.

"So, that definitely helped. Just seeing that I'm able to do the same things (I did in college)."

Harry averaged 13.9 yards per catch as a sophomore and 14.9 yards per catch as a junior at Arizona State, earning First-Team All-Pac-12 honors in both seasons as a playmaking deep threat.

Harry's NFL transition has been bumpy to date, as an ankle injury caused him to miss New England's first nine games. But the Patriots still are well aware of his talent.

"I need to do a better job of finding ways to get him in space, get him the ball, and let him have an opportunity to (make plays)," offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels admitted earlier this week.

The red zone seems like a natural place to get Harry more involved; the 6-foot-4, 225-pound wideout is a matchup nightmare for smaller cornerbacks and scored 17 touchdowns over his final two seasons.

Even after the Week 14 confidence booster, though, Harry will defer to McDaniels on how the Patriots want to increase his workload entering Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

"That's more of a Josh question," Harry said when asked about his role in New England's red zone offense. "I'm just ready whenever my name is called."

" ... Whenever I get onto the field, whether it's 50 snaps or one snap, whenever my name is called, I have to be able to contribute."

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