Just as the visions of the New England Patriots receiving corps was starting to take shape, it took yet another unexpected turn on Tuesday.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that the Patriots had sent veteran receiver Demaryius Thomas to their division rival New York Jets in exchange for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.
Thomas was originally released by the Patriots as part of final roster cuts before quickly being resigned a couple days later. He was nursing a hamstring injury last week that kept him out of action on Sunday against Pittsburgh.
Upon joining New England, Thomas was placed on the PUP list as he worked his way back from an Achilles injury suffered late last season. He returned to the field quicker than expected and saw action in New England’s final preseason contest against the Giants. In that game, he had seven catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns
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His time in New England was never really fluid. Thomas was originally slated to be a contributor late in the season with an unsure set of receivers. Now, with the Patriots extremely deep at the position there is no longer a need for Thomas on the roster. The Patriots maximized their profit for a guy who was on the open market just eight days ago.
It was the first deal between the Jets and Patriots since 2000 when New England surrendered top draft picks for head coach Bill Belichick.
Jets Depth Chart
Demaryius Thomas adds a veteran presence to a relatively thin Jets receiving unit. Thomas will help take the burden off Quincy Enunwa and Robby Anderson by providing another outside target for quarterback Sam Darnold.
Fellow former Patriots receiver Braxton Berrios handles the punt returning duties for the Jets but can also play the slot along with Jameson Crowder.
Thomas’ flare is something the Jets have been looking for since Santonio Holmes spent his swansong in the Meadowlands. His presence will help ease defensive pressure on guys like Enunwa and Anderson leaving those two dynamic receivers to likely run in single coverage.
Why Trade Him?
The Patriots were carrying eight receivers on the roster with Demaryius Thomas on the team. But in trading him, it helps give New England cap relief as Thomas would have been owed termination pay.
So in sending him to the division rival, the Patriots were able to get some value out of Thomas instead of wastefully releasing him back onto the open market and being on the hook for a portion of his salary.
The trade was also Belichick’s first with the Jets, meaning he has now made trades with every NFL franchise.
The move also reunites Thomas with his former offensive coordinator in Denver, Adam Gase. Now the head coach for the Jets, Gase is a guy who knows how to get the most out of Thomas. The move will be beneficial for both sides and will help Thomas feel comfortable learning a new offense.