Patriots

NFL Trade Deadline: Several trades we wish had happened

NFL Trade Deadline: Several trades we wish had happened

The NFL trade deadline has passed, and this was a step in the right direction for a league that's getting more and more active trade-wise. But still, there were only two trades on deadline day: Aqib Talib to the Dolphins and Leonard Williams to the Giants.

Sure, there were a bunch of players traded leading up the deadline, including Mohamed Sanu, Emmanuel Sanders, Jalen Ramsey, and Marcus Peters, but Tuesday? It was more dudline than deadline.

That said, the league could have been a hell of a lot more exciting with these moves. 

Philip Rivers to the Bills

Or really any quarterback to the Bills, for that matter. Buffalo is one of the teams that's a player or two away from being a serious contender, but when that player is a quarterback, you might as well be 10 players away. Imagine Philip Rivers in the AFC East for a couple of months, and the defensively stout Bills suddenly having an offense. 

O.J. Howard to the Patriots

The Bucs' handling of their 2017 first-round pick has been confusing. They've used him primarily as a blocker, killing his trade stock. Then, when approached by teams that would actually like to throw Howard the ball, Tampa's price was sky-high. Sure, it hurts PR-wise to sell low, but if you don't think the guy fits with your offense, what other choice do you have? Something tells me the Patriots would have found a better use for him. 

A kicker to the Patriots

The Super Bowl favorites spent deadline day swapping out kickers from the trash heap. NFL teams generally don't trade kickers, but if they did the Patriots might have a quality one. 

Melvin Gordon to the Lions

The Lions were a pleasant surprise after their 2-0-1 start, but they're just 1-3 since. They also have a doozy upcoming schedule, so if Matt Patricia wants to push for the playoffs in his second year he could use an upgrade to a backfield that lost Kerryon Johnson to IR. In case you've missed it, the Chargers are a disaster this season and Gordon hasn't exactly helped them since returning from his holdout. 

Any quarterback to the Bears

Apply everything I wrote earlier about the Bills to the Bears. 

Larry Fitzgerald to the Ravens

The Ravens had barely any cap space after trying for Marcus Peters, so they would have had to do more than just give Willie Snead a new contract. Say they figured it out, though. Lamar Jackson would have another weapon and the 36-year-old Fitzgerald would be able to take another crack at a title run late in his career. 

Jamal Adams to the Cowboys

This one was rumored leading up to the trade deadline. I don't really care about the Cowboys getting a really good safety; I just like seeing first-round picks traded, and if such a deal went down, two AFC East teams would have multiple first-round picks in 2020. Potential competition!

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Here's why a lot of Patriots recent draft picks have Senior Bowl experience

Here's why a lot of Patriots recent draft picks have Senior Bowl experience

Bill Belichick was there. Josh McDaniels was there. The Patriots had a large contingent down in Mobile, Ala. for this week's Senior Bowl practices (the game will air Saturday on NFL Network at 2:30 p.m.), which should come as no surprise.

Just look at how the Patriots have drafted of late. 

In 2019, they selected Jarrett Stidham, Byron Cowart and Jake Bailey -- all of whom participated in the Senior Bowl. They also signed undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers, who played in the game. 

In 2018, they grabbed Isaiah Wynn in the first round, Duke Dawson, Ja'Whaun Bentley and Braxton Berrios after they'd competed in the Senior Bowl.

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Three of their four draft picks from 2017, plus two undrafted rookies, were in the Senior Bowl. 

From 2013-16, they brought aboard 20 Senior Bowl participants as rookies.

"The great thing about the Senior Bowl is that you're seeing some of the best players," Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said last spring. 

"There have actually been some underclassmen who have been incorporated into that mix. So you're seeing them against good competition and it's a different dynamic or different situation that they've been placed in. You're kind of taking them out of their environment that they've been in and kind of giving them something new and seeing how they handle it against good people."

The small-school players -- or the players who are asked to do something they didn't do much as collegians -- are the ones who have an opportunity to really land on radars during Senior Bowl work. For the Patriots, who constantly harp on the benefit of having seen players work against great competition on a regular basis when they hail from an SEC program, seeing some of the best in the country work against one another matters.

"It’s one thing if they do it against a lower-level team," Caserio said back in 2016, when asked about the Senior Bowl. "I mean, look, not all teams are created equal. Not all conferences are created equal. That’s just a fact. We can’t control that. So when you can see them actually play against really good players or good players that are at a comparable level of competition that they’re going to see every Sunday, that has to be a part of [the evaluation], no question."

The next year, the Patriots took two Senior Bowlers from smaller programs: Youngstown State's Derek Rivers and Troy's Antonio Garcia. 

"Where [the Senior Bowl] probably helps a little bit is players on a lower level that maybe haven’t competed against the same level of competition," Caserio said back in 2017. "Obviously, they’re making a big jump. . . Garcia was down there. That’s going to be a big jump in competition because this is what they’re going to be playing against. 

"With all due respect to whatever conference Youngstown State is in, there’s not a lot of NFL players in that conference. I mean, that’s just the way that it is. You’re going to have to see him against NFL competition, which the Senior Bowl is usually a pretty good indication of that because you’re talking about the top seniors in the country. It’s a part of the process. You’re not making a decision based off of that, but maybe a player who doesn’t have as much experience against that level, you’re going to see how he fares, and then you just kind of continue to move forward."

Some small-school prospects who may have caught Belichick's eye this week? 

Dayton tight end Adam Trautman was already considered one of the better tight ends in the draft class and seemed to only help his stock.

Safety Kyle Dugger -- who hails from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University -- impressed. Ditto for Division III offensive lineman Ben Bartch out of Saint John's, who saw rushers from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Ole Miss and other high-end programs and reportedly held his own.

Perhaps the most recent success story out of Senior Bowl week for the Patriots wasn't with a small-school prospect, though. It might've been with Shaq Mason, a guard coming out of a run-heavy system at Georgia Tech. The Patriots simply hadn't seen him do much in the way of pass protection for the Yellow Jackets.

But Mason got to the Senior Bowl, took to the coaching he received, and the Patriots took notice. 

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"The thing I’ll say about Shaq," Belichick said after drafting Mason in 2015, "is just watching him at the Senior Bowl, I mean it was only one week, but he made a huge improvement just in those, whatever it was, four or five practices, whatever it was down there. His stance is different. You could see each day progressively how he was taking to the coaching down there and his footwork and his hand placement and his body position. I know it was basic. It wasn’t like it was a big scheme thing at the Senior Bowl, but just doing things on a daily basis better than the day before, looking more comfortable doing them. And it was different than what they did at Georgia Tech."

Big school. Small school. Everyone had something to gain in Mobile this week. And that includes the Patriots. That's why -- with more time off this year than recent years -- they were well represented down there.


 

NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

The New England Patriots reportedly have made an addition to their coaching staff.

According to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe, they've hired ex-Los Angeles Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.

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Fisch's official role with the Patriots offense is to be determined. But now that there's an opening at wide receivers coach with Joe Judge joining the New York Giants, Fisch could be a candidate for the job.

He brings plenty of experience to the table having coached Denver Broncos wide receivers in 2008 and Michigan receivers from 2015-16. Fisch also coached Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks in 2010 and was the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive coordinator from 2013-14.