Patriots

Makes a lot of sense for Patriots to try to pry Minkah Fitzpatrick from Dolphins in trade

Makes a lot of sense for Patriots to try to pry Minkah Fitzpatrick from Dolphins in trade

Might the Patriots be willing to make an in-division trade for the third time in the last three weeks?

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported on Friday that the Dolphins have given second-year defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick permission to seek a trade. Miami is reportedly hoping to get a package for last year's No. 11 overall pick that includes a first-round draft choice.

The Patriots have already traded with the Bills (for Russell Bodine) and Jets (for a sixth-round pick) in the last few weeks, but on its face, a deal for Fitzpatrick makes more sense than any other the Patriots have worked this offseason.

Fitzpatrick was the best safety fit in last year's draft for New England based on where he played his college football (Alabama), his athleticism (4.46-second 40, 33-inch vertical, 121-inch broad jump), his versatility (lined up in the slot, at linebacker, off the edge, at safety and at corner in 2017), and his highly-touted football character. 

He was at the top of the list of last year's Prototypical Patriots. But because Fitzpatrick nearly cracked the top-10, the Patriots had little shot at him unless they wanted to package their two first-round picks to move up and get him. (They went on to take Isaiah Wynn and Sony Michel, both of whom have prominent in the Patriots offense.)

Now, if all the Patriots have to do is turn over a No. 1 pick for 2020 for Fitzpatrick, shouldn't they do it without hesitation? Not only was he a well-rounded phenom in college, his performance as a rookie last year bodes well for how he'll perform when he settles into life as a pro. Extremely well.

According to Pro Football Focus, Fitzpatrick allowed a 69.0 passer rating when targeted last season (ninth among corners). He posted 0.84 yards allowed per coverage snap (12th) and 14.1 snaps per reception allowed (13th). When in the slot, where he spent the majority of his time, he allowed a passer rating of 53.4, which was tops in the league.

Fitzpatrick will turn 23 in November. As a first-rounder last year, he'll be under team control through the 2022 season if his fifth-year option is picked up. And in the Patriots defense he could be a Patrick Chung type of movable chess piece that Belichick would love. After trading Brandin Cooks for a first-round pick not too long ago, one would think that the Patriots would be willing to give up at least that much for a player who seems so perfectly suited for their system.

Here's the catch: Fitzpatrick apparently hates the role that makes so much sense for him.

Remember, he's in Brian Flores' defense with the Dolphins. Flores would undoubtedly love to have a safety-linebacker-slot corner hybrid player like Chung in his system to build toward the future. But Fitzpatrick doesn't seem interested. In ESPN's report, it's explained that Fitzpatrick does not want to play multiple positions. It's also pointed out that Fitzpatrick took issue with being moved into the box by the Dolphins during joint practices with the Bucs this summer.

"Coach has asked me to do something right now. I got to do what they ask me to do," Fitzpatrick said at the time. "If we have to have some discussions in the future, we'll have those discussions.

"I'm not 215 pounds, 220 pounds. So playing in the box isn't best suited for me, but that's what Coach is asking me to do."

That's exactly what the Patriots would ask Fitzpatrick (listed at 6-1, 207 pounds) to do. Maybe he'd be willing to change his mind if the Patriots acquired him. Maybe getting out from under a situation where there's expected to be a good deal of losing this season would open Fitzpatrick's mind to filling a variety of roles. 

And in 2019 Fitzpatrick might not even have to be the versatile defender the Patriots would eventually ask him to be. Chung (5-11, 215) still looks like an effective player in that role at 32 years old. Even in the slot the Patriots are pretty well covered with Jonathan Jones, who just signed an extension with the team. 

Fitzpatrick still seems like an easy target for the Patriots, regardless of the first-round price tag. The only thing that might keep them from trying to do that deal -- other than the Dolphins not being willing to trade him within the division -- would be Fitzpatrick's reluctance to make the most of his versatility. 

His skill set is a perfect fit for what the Patriots want. He'd be a talented young piece in a secondary that currently relies on three players in their 30s (Chung, Devin McCourty, Jason McCourty). 

But in a locker room where a whatever-coach-wants approach his highly valued, Fitzpatrick's apparent unwillingness to do more than one thing might be enough to turn the Patriots off.

Report: Antonio Brown preparing to play vs. Dolphins>>>

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Panthers TE Greg Olsen says Bears nearly traded him to Patriots in 2010

Panthers TE Greg Olsen says Bears nearly traded him to Patriots in 2010

In an alternate universe, Greg Olsen is a New England Patriot.

The veteran Carolina Panthers tight end nearly was traded back to the Pats back in 2010 when he played for the Chicago Bears. What caused the deal to fall through was the Patriots selecting Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Olsen discussed the story of the near-trade Thursday on The Dan Patrick Show.

"Jerry Angelo brought me into his office and he's like 'hey, I'm just going to be honest with you, we have a trade in place with you contingent on how the draft falls tomorrow night,'" Olsen said. "Come to later find out through some guys I knew in the organization it was with the Patriots and it was them assuming [Gronkowski] was going to be taken in the first round.

"That year, the Patriots had three second-round draft picks and they were going to trade one of those for me if Gronk was already taken in the first round. He fell to the second round, they took him with their second-round pick, Belichick called back the Bears and said 'we're going to take Gronkowski and the trade is now off.'"

Watch below:

Olsen has told the story before, but this sheds more light on how trade talks between the Bears and Patriots went down prior to New England opting to go with Gronkowski instead.

While we can't help but wonder "what if?", it's safe to say things worked out just fine for both sides. Gronkowski developed into one of the best tight ends of all time and helped the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles, and Olsen has enjoyed a stellar career in Carolina where he's clearly cherished playing for the last eight years.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Matt Cassel explains what it takes to earn Tom Brady's trust

Patriots Talk Podcast: Matt Cassel explains what it takes to earn Tom Brady's trust

Michael Bennett's suspension, Tom Brady's expectations, and the hierarchy in the AFC are among the topics Tom E. Curran and former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel discuss in the latest episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast. 

2:46 — Tom Curran is joined by Matt Cassel to discuss the Patriots one-game suspension of Michael Bennett. How do organizations determine a punishment for altercations and how does a player acting out affect the rest of the team?

13:41 — Matt talks about the perfection Tom Brady expects on the field (from everyone) and how that relates to N'Keal Harry being reintroduced into the Patriots offense.

21:01 — Curran wonders what it is that new or young receivers consistently mess up as they try to learn the Patriots offense. Matt gets into the Xs and Os.

24:49 — Is 'laces out' really the golden rule when it comes to place kick holding? Cassel questions this andtalks about his experience as a holder.

29:31 — Tom and Matt give their picks for second-best team in the AFC. One of the contenders may shock you (hint — it's in the Patriots' division).

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE

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