Patriots

If the Patriots are in the trade market, Week 7 helped their cause

If the Patriots are in the trade market, Week 7 helped their cause

If the Patriots are looking for help at tight end or receiver, Week 7 around the NFL probably helped their chances.

The Chargers and Broncos both lost to fall to 2-5. Even with Patrick Mahomes out for the time being, those two squads aren't climbing back into relevance in that division.  The Falcons' loss to the Rams left Matt Ryan banged up and the team's record sinking to 1-6. The 2-4 Bucs had a bye and have six non-division leaders ahead of them in any futile Wild Card hunt. The Bengals remained the Bengals and are therefore 0-7.

All of those teams have pieces that could suit the Pats as next Tuesday's trade deadline approaches. Here's a carcass-by-carcass breakdown:

FALCONS

The guy who makes the most sense from Atlanta is veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu, a 30-year-old Rutgers guy with one year left on his deal. Atlanta still has Julio Jones and 2018 first-round pick Calvin Ridley at receiver, so it's not like they'd need to cling to Sanu during a retooling in the offseason.

The Falcons also have a good tight end in Austin Hooper, but the 24-year-old is still on his rookie deal. There would be little reason for the Falcons to flip him unless a team paid handsomely.

BRONCOS

Other than Antonio Brown, no non-Patriots receiver has been mentioned more around these parts than 32-year-old Broncos veteran Emmanuel Sanders. The Pats have a history with him, as they signed him to an offer sheet back in 2013 when trying to steal him away from the Steelers. They also talked to him the following offseason before he signed with the Broncos. Now in his sixth season in Denver, he clearly wants out and the team is reportedly set to trade him.

CHARGERS

The Chargers have been brutal this season, but their pieces still might be too good to trade. Keenan Allen is still 27 and has one more year left on his contract. Assuming the team re-signs Philip Rivers in the offseason, they should want their two-time Pro Bowl receiver there with him.

You can also put tight end Hunter Henry in the "pipe dream" category. Like Hooper with the Falcons, Henry is on his rookie deal and is better suited to be a building block in Los Angeles than a deadline defection.

BUCS

Free O.J. Howard. For real.

We don't know if the 2017 first-round tight end out of Alabama is a bust, because it's just as possible that Bruce Arians doesn't know what to do with him. Being used primarily as a blocker, Howard has just 18 targets and 13 catches through six games. Regardless of whose fault that is, that type of usage in the passing game has undeniably crushed Howard's trade value. If I'm the Patriots, he'd be the guy I'd target.

BENGALS

A.J. Green is an apparent long shot for multiple reasons. In addition to liking it in Cincinnati, he still isn't back from his ankle injury. Adam Schefter reported Sunday that Green won't be back until after the deadline.

Tyler Eifert has just nine catches over the last five weeks. He is a big name who could probably be had for a song, but if the Patriots didn't want him in free agency, why would they want him now?

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Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

Bill Belichick tells media to ask Robert Kraft about Antonio Brown apology

One of Bill Belichick's cardinal press conference rules is that he only talks about players who are in the building.

So, it's no surprise he swatted away a question about one of his former employees Wednesday.

The Patriots head coach was asked about former New England wide receiver Antonio Brown apologizing to team owner Robert Kraft on social media Tuesday and quickly deferred to his boss.

"You'd have to talk to Robert about that," Belichick said.

"I mean, every week you guys ask me about a player who's not on our team, and every week it's going to be the same answer."

Brown was on the Patriots for about two weeks before New England released him amid allegations of rape, sexual assault and sexual misconduct.

Brown's conduct as those allegations came out reportedly "enraged" Kraft and may have been the last straw for the Patriots in releasing him.

Considering Brown directed his apology at Kraft, the Patriots owner may in fact be the best person to ask about the 30-year-old free agent, who is under NFL investigation but reportedly is hopeful he'll be cleared to play later this season.

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Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

Patriots punter Jake Bailey wins AFC Special Teams Player of the Week after great performance

New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey might be the most impressive rookie from the team's 2019 NFL Draft class. 

The NFL announced Wednesday that Bailey is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week winner for Week 12. He also won this award after the Patriots' Week 3 win over the New York Jets.

Bailey put on a punting clinic in New England's 17-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday. The Stanford product had six punts inside the 20-yard line and five punts that went over 50 yards. His punts helped the Patriots win the field position battle and forced the Eagles to go on long scoring drives. Bailey's kicks were among the primary factors in the Patriots holding the Eagles scoreless through the final three quarters.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick praised Bailey's ability to pin the Eagles deep in their own territory amid the difficult kicking conditions in Philly.

“Yeah. I’d say at Stanford, not a lot of tough conditions out there – out there playing Arizona State and Arizona and UCLA and all. But he’s had a lot of, I would say, challenging conditions out here – both in the spring, and then as we’ve gone through the regular season," Belichick told reporters after Sunday's victory. "This year there have been days out there where it’s been cold, rainy, windy and I think he learned something every day. There’s cross winds and there’s winds in your face and it’s kicking with the wind and all that. There’s challenges in every one of them. If you’re kicking with the wind, that’s an advantage to the punter, but handling the snap, which is coming back into the wind, wobbles and things like that. It’s a little tougher snap for the snapper.

"He’s done a good job of, I would say, adapting to the conditions. He’s still got a long way to go. I’m sure he’ll learn a lot more as the season goes along, but between the holding, the kickoffs and the punting in various conditions and certainly situational football, which came up today. You know, the end-of-the-game punts and backed-up punts and plus 50-punts and the kickoffs and so forth. There were a lot of situations. But he’s a great kid. He works hard. He’s really played well for us this entire season and he’s been so valuable to this team and he proved it out there today. I wish he could have recovered that fumble, but he’s been great for us.”

Belichick doesn't often give that level of praise to a rookie, but it's certainly warranted in Bailey's case. He's been a tremendous asset to the Patriots not only as a punter, but also as the holder on field goals and player handling kickoff duties. That's the kind of versatility Belichick values so much.

Phil Perry: Jake Bailey, special teams excel in Week 12 report card>>>

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