Patriots

Patriots need to explore WR trade market; who's out there?

Patriots need to explore WR trade market; who's out there?

An 83-catch season is pretty good, right?

What if it takes three guys to compile those 83 catches? Not so good.

That’s the sum total of receptions the three guys signed last week had in 2018. Hopefully, 5-foot-9 wideout Bruce Ellington, 6-3 wideout Maurice Harris and 6-6 tight end Matt Lacosse all have their best NFL days ahead of them. No reason to belittle them for having done little with their chances so far.

But the Patriots need to get creative at wide receiver now because the firm of Ellington, Harris and Lacosse is a little weak.

If the quick solution is not going to come in free agency (and it’s not) and it’s not going to come in the draft (it never has), the Patriots will have to pluck an asset from another team via trade.

It’s what they did in 2017 when they traded for Brandin Cooks. It’s what they did last September with Gordon. It’s what they tried to do at the trade deadline last October with Demaryius Thomas.

MORE FROM TOM E. CURRAN ON TRADING FOR A WR

The Patriots have draft assets (12 picks in April including six in the first three rounds) and an overflow of young talent in the secondary. What they need to do is find a willing team, a useful receiver and the resolve to pay a fat salary.

Because crossing their fingers as they did in 2018 only worked from an “end justifies the means” perspective.

The Patriots presented 41-year-old quarterback Tom Brady with a wide receiver group that had “SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” on the package last year.

He opened it up and pieces like Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell were broken. Went back to the store. Picked up a Josh Gordon. He broke too.

THEY WON THE SUPER BOWL, NITWIT!!!!!

They did. Because Julian Edelman, Tom Brady, James White, Sony Michel, Rob Gronkowski, James Develin, the offensive line, Josh McDaniels and a defense that was daunting in the playoffs made that happen.

Their degree of difficulty on offense was unnecessarily high because the wide receiver fivesome of Edelman, Gordon (for a spell), Cordarelle Patterson, Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan could have been labeled Dynamic and The Limiteds.

With Gronk still uncommitted for 2019, the need is unmistakable.

In my opinion, there’s no reason to go berserk over the Patriots missing out on Adam Humphries or not getting in the game for Golden Tate, Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham.

They probably dodged a bullet with the pedestrian Humphries. Tate is slowing down. OBJ cost too much. Brown isn’t their kind of guy and the Steelers reportedly weren’t trading with New England anyway.

Shaking down another team for a declining asset is the way to go. Think “Cooks Deal” but with better execution because that kind of blew up in the Patriots face.

It’s actually a cautionary tale.

You’ll remember New England traded first-round and third-round picks to the Saints for Cooks and a fourth-rounder on March 11, 2017. Cooks was making just $1.56M in 2017 and was slated to make $8.5M in 2018 as part of the fifth-year option on his rookie deal (which the Patriots picked up in April of 2017).

Meanwhile, the Saints needed secondary help and Malcolm Butler, a restricted free agent at the time, was a viable solution for New Orleans.

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The hope was that the Pats would get Butler to sign his tender then send him to New Orleans and recoup the 32nd overall pick. But the Saints cooled to a Butler deal and the Patriots were minus one first-round pick and in possession of a corner who wanted out.

They got really good production from Cooks in 2017 and the Patriots felt lucky to move him to the Rams in exchange for a first-round pick last offseason. So there was no blood after all and the Patriots didn’t get stuck paying Cooks’ $8.5M salary last year or his expiring contract.

But New England still didn’t have his help last year and they could have used it.

Meanwhile, Butler was OK at best during the season and then at the center of a Super Bowl coaching decision that left him on the bench and the rest of the country dumbstruck.

The Patriots will look for a cleaner situation this time. A player whose contract expires after this season, ideally. Maybe a first-round pick who’s been marooned in a bad situation. Maybe a later-round pick who’s shown promise. Maybe a player who’s blocked out by the talent in front of him.

The Patriots can deal an asset then have control for a year to decide if they want to keep the player. A lease-to-own proposition.

Here are 10 wide receivers the Patriots could conceivably chase via trade this offseason, their contract status and the pros and cons of bringing them aboard.

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Tom Brady recruits Zdeno Chara as Rob Gronkowski's replacement

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USA TODAY Sports photo

Tom Brady recruits Zdeno Chara as Rob Gronkowski's replacement

Tom Brady has an idea for Rob Gronkowski's replacement at tight end, and it doesn't involve free agency or the upcoming NFL Draft.

The Patriots quarterback had a light bulb go off above his head while watching the Bruins take on the Maple Leafs in Game 7. Why not have 6-foot-9, 256-pound defenseman Zdeno Chara give tight end a shot?

All jokes aside, Brady has been one of Chara's biggest fans during the Bruins' first-round series. He also left a motivational comment on Chara's Instagram post prior to Tuesday night's Game 7 matchup.

As for what the Patriots are really doing to fill Gronk's void at tight end, they signed both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse in free agency during the offseason. It remains to be seen whether they'll address the tight end position during the NFL Draft, which begins April 25.

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Next-Pats Podcast: Draft week is finally here; Mike Lombardi talks assessing talent

Next-Pats Podcast: Draft week is finally here; Mike Lombardi talks assessing talent

At last, the draft has arrived - almost. Phil Perry talks to former Patriots staffer Mike Lombardi as the annual selection of talent looms.

3:42 - Phil Perry is joined by former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff, football analyst and writer for the Athletic Mike Lombardi. The two begin by discussing the validity of certain reports on players in the upcoming draft.

7:44 - Are the Patriots in a position where they need to pick a quarterback this year? Lombardi explains how difficult it is to judge talent because of the difference in the level of competition in college football.

12:26 - Lombardi talks about how this year's draft could be weak compared to previous years' and how the Patriots should approach their selections because of that.

18:36 - Phil goes through his final mock draft, with the picks being decided by the fans via Twitter polls.


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