Patriots

Patriots Point/Counterpoint: What's the biggest trade deadline need?

Patriots Point/Counterpoint: What's the biggest trade deadline need?

Every Friday during the NFL season, Tom E. Curran & Phil Perry will go head-to-head and offer their own takes on a Patriots or NFL-related question. This week, they debate the upcoming NFL Trade Deadline.

THE PATRIOTS' PRIMARY NEED AT THE TRADE DEADLINE IS...

A wide receiver with inside-outside, three-level ability who can run after the catch. So Antonio Brown? No.

Let's go with someone a smidge less self-destructive, narcissistic and a tad more dependable/predictable. Say, Emmanuel Sanders. Or Danny Amendola. Neither being in quite the same stratosphere as Brown — and Amendola not having the outside ability either — but someone like that. Why that kind of wideout? Or a wideout and not a tight end?

Because of the ripple effect the offense will realize. Someone who plays inside means the Patriots can rely a little less on Julian Edelman, whom they are going to grind down to sawdust at the rate they are throwing to him.

What about Phillip Dorsett? Not an inside guy. Definitely not a run-after-catch guy. What about N'Keal Harry? He's going to have a lot flying at him in the coming weeks. Keep it simple with him by not putting him in the interior maelstrom.

What about Jakobi Meyers? Don't hate the idea. Josh Gordon? Just doesn't get that interior separation that stubby-legged guys with great quickness get.

The Patriots knew they needed an interior guy. That's why they tried Cole Beasley and Adam Humphries in free agency. That's why they made the panic move to sign Brown. They get one more chance at the brass ring at the trade deadline. It's gotta be a wideout.

*****

I hear you, my friend. I do. But what if I told you the Patriots could get their interior receiving presence checked off their wish list AND fix another position entirely?

For me, their primary need at the deadline is a tight end. Someone who can catch. Someone who can make yards after the catch. Someone who puts defenses in a legitimate we-gotta-make-sure-we-got-this-guy-covered sort of bind on third downs. Say, Austin Hooper. Or maybe O.J. Howard, if you think he can be that guy. (I'm starting to wonder if he can be that guy; he has just 13 receptions this year and has been targeted just four more times than the immortal Cameron Brate.)

But Hooper makes a world of sense. He might not move mountains as a blocker, but that's why guys like Ryan Izzo and Eric Tomlinson are on the roster. Hooper could block against lighter fronts while serving as a true matchup weapon against linebackers or safeties. He leads all NFL tight ends in receptions and he's on pace for about 1,300 yards receiving.

Taking a crowbar to the Falcons and muscling him out of there might be an issue — maybe they'll decide to franchise him next year if they can't ink him to a long-term contract — but the idea of Hooper in this offense is intriguing. A pass-catching tight end (not named Ben Watson) would seemingly settle things down in the offensive huddle, make that side of the ball a little more unpredictable, and give Tom Brady another viable weapon in the passing game.

Check, check and check.

Trade Deadline Preview: Could Patriots go after these players?

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Patriots' Stephon Gilmore tops off two-INT performance with perfect tweet

Patriots' Stephon Gilmore tops off two-INT performance with perfect tweet

Stephon Gilmore continues to make a strong case for 2019 NFL Defensive Player Of the Year honors.

The New England Patriots cornerback tallied his fifth and sixth interceptions of the season during Sunday's win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The second was a pick-six in the third quarter that extended the Pats lead to 17.

After his sensational performance, Gilmore shared the highlight of his pick-six and topped it off with a perfect tweet:

Hard to disagree. In fact, Gilmore's teammates will tell you the same thing. . .

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As great of a day as it was for Gilmore, the Patriots' lockdown corner believes it could have been even better. He wasn't satisfied with contributing "only" two of New England's four INTs.

"I should have had three. I should have had four," Gilmore said after the game.

The Patriots will gladly take the two, which helped them improve to 11-3 on the season and clinch their 11th straight playoff berth.

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Patriots QB Tom Brady praises N'Keal Harry for rookie's touchdown catch

Patriots QB Tom Brady praises N'Keal Harry for rookie's touchdown catch

New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry caught two passes from quarterback Tom Brady in Sunday's Week 15 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, and one of those receptions played a critical role in the defending champs blowing the game open in the second half.

The Patriots had good field position on their first drive of the third quarter thanks to an interception by veteran cornerback Stephon Gilmore. After driving down to the 7-yard line, Brady and the offense faced a 3rd-and-goal situation. Brady took the snap, went through his reads and couldn't find an open target. The Patriots offensive line provided great protection, and Brady finally fired a pass into the back of the end zone, where Harry made a fantastic diving play to haul in his second touchdown catch of the season. The score put New England up 20-10.

"It was a good play by (Harry)," Brady told reporters after his team's 34-13 victory at Paul Brown Stadium. "He adjusted his route, and then came back and found some space. It was a good play. We needed it."

Brady likes the work ethic Harry is showing in an effort to improve as much as possible as the playoffs near.

"He's fighting. He's working hard every week to learn," Brady said. "He's a very hard-working guy. It's fun to see him make those plays."

Harry also ran the ball twice for 22 yards, showing his versatility as someone who can be a threat in the passing attack and also make plays in the run game.

The rookie wideout played 40 snaps Sunday after only playing only two in last week's loss to the Kansas City Chiefs. The Patriots gave Harry more responsibility and he responded well. Giving Harry even more of an opportunity to make plays over the final two weeks of the regular season will best prepare him to make a positive impact when the Patriots need it most in the playoffs.

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