Report: Potential Patriots trade target WR A.J. Green won't play until after trade deadline

Report: Potential Patriots trade target WR A.J. Green won't play until after trade deadline

Well, it looks like it may have just gotten harder for the New England Patriots to add a potential impact player at the wide receiver position ahead of the 2019 NFL trade deadline.

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Cincinnati Bengals aren't expecting wide receiver A.J. Green to return to the field until after the league's Oct. 29 trade deadline. Green has missed the entire season while recovering from an ankle injury he suffered during offseason workouts.

There had been speculation that Green could draw interest from receiver-needy teams across the league. And that would include the Patriots, who were rumored to be interested in him in recent weeks. That notion certainly makes sense. The Patriots (6-0) are desperate for receiver help while Green is one of the best receivers in the NFL (when healthy) and is playing for an 0-6 Bengals team.

Seeing Cincinnati move the 31-year-old veteran and his expiring contract to get assets would be a sensible move for them as they look to rebuild. And seeing the Patriots sacrifice assets to patch one of their biggest weaknesses wouldn't be a surprise either.

That said, head coach Zac Taylor has been adamant that the Bengals won't be moving Green. And the veteran receiver has expressed an admiration for Larry Fitzgerald, who has played his entire career with the Arizona Cardinals, so he didn't seem thrilled by the idea of being traded either. But he did acknowledge that he could be traded and is "prepared for anything."

With Green now out beyond the trade deadline, it would further complicate an already unlikely-looking trade. Teams will be wary of his medical issues and without seeing him on the field, they aren't likely to pay the price it would likely cost to get the Bengals to ship out Green.

The Patriots will likely look elsewhere for potential receiver help. While Green would have been an ideal target, it just doesn't seem that he will be on the move unless the Bengals change their minds about moving him or change their asking price for his services.

Top players Patriots could target at NFL trade deadline>>>

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Do Patriots have football's best cornerback duo? reveals its ranking

Do Patriots have football's best cornerback duo? reveals its ranking

The New England Patriots weren't able to defend their Super Bowl crown last season, but it wasn't the fault of the team's defense.

The Patriots defense was spectacular for most of the year, and it only gave up 14 offensive points in the team's season-ending AFC Wild Card playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans at Gillette Stadium. 

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Perhaps the biggest strength of this unit was its pass defense. The Patriots allowed the second-fewest passing yards and the second-fewest passing yards per attempt. They also led the league in opponents' completion percentage, opponents' QB rating and interceptions, while giving up the fewest passing touchdowns.

One player who played a major role in this success was cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was named the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner. He wasn't alone, though. Cornerbacks Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson also had strong seasons.

Do the Patriots have the best cornerback duo in football? recently ranked its top five CB tandems, and the Patriots came in at No. 2. Here's analyst Bucky Brooks' explanation:

2) Stephon Gilmore and Jason McCourty, New England Patriots: Gilmore, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, teams with McCourty to give the Patriots a formidable tandem. The duo excels at snuffing out WR1s in the Patriots' man-heavy scheme without having to deviate from their straightforward approach. Gilmore routinely takes on the challenge of shadowing the opponent's most dangerous threat, while McCourty blankets the sidekick on the opposite side of the field. Each guy has thrived in his respective role, which is why the Patriots' stifling pass defense was the talk of the town for much of last season.

The only tandem to rank ahead of the Patriots was the talented Baltimore Ravens duo of Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. These two veteran cornerbacks were an essential part of a Ravens defense that helped Baltimore finish the regular season with an AFC-best 14-2 record before losing to the Titans in the Divisional Round of the playoffs.

The Patriots are likely to bring back almost their entire secondary from last year, which is good news ahead of the 2020 season. The only key player from that group who's departed this offseason is safety Duron Harmon. He was traded to the Detroit Lions last month.

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Todd McShay insists Jarrett Stidham is 'not ready' to lead Patriots in 2020

Todd McShay insists Jarrett Stidham is 'not ready' to lead Patriots in 2020

Jarrett Stidham could develop into the New England Patriots' quarterback of the future.

But can he help them win games in the present?

ESPN draft expert Todd McShay has his doubts that the 23-year-old QB can succeed right away as the Patriots' starting QB following Tom Brady's free-agent departure.

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"From everyone I talked to in the organization, they're excited about his development," McShay said Monday on ESPN's "Get Up!" "He has so much potential. He is gifted. He's been through a lot in his life. He's got some character and grittiness and toughness to him.

"But he's not ready yet. That's the bottom line. He is not ready to lead the New England Patriots, in my opinion."

McShay cited New England's Week 3 game against the New York Jets last season in which Stidham entered the game in garbage time and threw an interception, prompting an angry Bill Belichick to sub Brady back in.

Our Tom E. Curran has reported the Patriots are content entering the season with Stidham and backup Brian Hoyer as their QB duo, but McShay suggested the team still may look elsewhere for a signal-caller via free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft.

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"They are going to have to make a decision on what to do," McShay said. "Is it bringing in a veteran like Andy Dalton to kind of stem the tide between now and when Stidham is ready, or is it drafting another quarterback that they think can bring competition and potentially outplay Stidham at that No. 1 position?"

The Patriots have options at QB in the NFL Draft, from high-profile names like Tua Tagovailoa, Justin Herbert and Jordan Love to second-tier arms like Jacob Eason and Jake Fromm.

Whether those options -- or an NFL arm like Dalton, Jameis Winston and Cam Newton -- are worth pursuing appears up for debate. But reporters at least can agree on this: Belichick won't jump the gun for a QB.

"The one thing I know from talking to people inside the organization: It's all about patience and waiting to see how the market plays out," McShay added.