The Patriots have been actively preparing for Tuesday’s 4 p.m. trade deadline for weeks.
A source says they’ve spoken to virtually every team in the league and had conversations on more than two dozen players in play at a variety of positions.
It would be an upset if they don’t make some kind of move not just because of the amount of advance work they’ve done but also because they were making trade deadline moves when the rest of the league was still regarding that day as another Tuesday afternoon in October.
CURRAN'S HARD TRUTHS:
The names they’ve been linked to so far are recognizable ones: Denver’s Demaryius Thomas was mentioned by NFL Network’s Mike Giardi. Jay Glazer further reported the Patriots are willing to give up a high draft pick for a “bona fide premium wide receiver.”
I don’t know what that combination of words exactly means, but calling the 31-year-old Thomas a “bona fide premium wide receiver” is aggressive. He’s entering his decline and has always struggled with drops (four this season, one for every 10 receptions in his career.
He’s earning an $8.5 million base salary this year or $531,250 per game so that would mean the Patriots would pay him $3.71M for seven games of work. Seems high. For them.
Other wideouts that could be on the move are DeSean Jackson (Tampa Bay) and Pierre Garcon (San Francisco).
Jackson is also 31 and his $10M salary means the Patriots would be laying out even more per game if they signed him. He is a free agent at the end of the year, though, so if he signs with another team in free agency after 2018 the Pats may get a minimal reward in the compensatory pick formula in 2020.
The most interesting target could be Garcon. He’s 32 and falling apart a bit physically. Shoulder and knee issues kept him out of Sunday’s game against Arizona, a neck injury landed him on IR in 2017. But he has a more manageable base salary than the Thomas or Jackson ($6.625M) and the Niners owe the Patriots a decade of favors for gift-wrapping Jimmy Garoppolo to them last year at the trade deadline.
Why is a receiver even on the Patriots wish list with Josh Gordon doing more than anyone could have projected, Julian Edelman back from suspension and the Phillip Dorsett/Chris Hogan tandem returned to complementary roles where they are most effective?
Perhaps because all of those players need backup? Gordon is a slip-up away from being suspended, the 32-year-old Edelman’s playing style invites calamity and Hogan goes down like a bag of hammers every time he gets tackled.
Between those three, the somewhat injured Gronk and the totally injured Michel, athletic tape will be used.
Which brings us back to Garcon, who may be less durable than all of them.
So it’s a quandary if a “premium, bona fide, USDA, Angus wide receiver” is in the Patriots sights.
Cap damage will be done and the Patriots don’t have a ton of it. And the Patriots – always cognizant of value and keeping draft resources – would be putting the match to a draft pick on a less-than-sure thing.
Then there’s the learning curve. Gordon’s managed it well but his doing so and the praise he’s gotten for accomplishing something others have rarely done in the past just underscores the fact it’s not a plug-and-play position for the Patriots.
The Patriots paid Brandin Cooks $1.5M in salary and bonuses in 2017. When he was due $8.5M in salary this year – same as Thomas – the team shipped him to the Rams and got a first-round pick back.
The compensation for Cooks looks terrific on a spreadsheet. He was essentially a no-cost, all-upside rental since the team initially sacrificed a first-rounder to get him.
But if the wideout concern for the Patriots remains this high on Halloween, it’s worth debating whether keeping him around for $531,250 per week and forgoing the first-rounder they got back from the Rams would have been a smoother move than trying to trade for Demaryius Thomas.
If the Patriots are even actively doing that.
Talks are just talk until there’s action.
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