As one of the top teams in the NFL and a consistent Super Bowl contender, the New England Patriots are almost always active on trade deadline day. But that wasn’t the case this year.
The Patriots, who have memorably made impact moves on deadline day like dealing away Jamie Collins in 2016 and bringing in Jonathan Casillas during their 2014 Super Bowl run. But there wasn’t much buzz in 2019 as New England concluded its dealing with a week to spare.
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Sure, the tight amount of available salary-cap space played a part in New England’s dormancy on deadline day, as did the high asking prices from teams around the league. The Patriots stood pat, content with their acquisition of Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons and their sale of Michael Bennett to the Dallas Cowboys.
But was that enough for New England?
Forget Tight End, The Offensive Line is in Shambles
There was a ton of chatter about New England possibly being involved in a trade for Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard or Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert. Ultimately, neither wound up being traded as the asking price was far too high.
But the Patriots don’t need a tight end and it’s not because of the off-chance Rob Gronkowski comes back. New England is banged up at that position and the trio of tight ends on the roster have all produced in different ways.
Instead, the Patriots should have made getting an offensive lineman a priority. Trent Williams was available but the asking price and his salary were both far too much for New England to meet.
So, the Patriots could have gone after Halapoulivaati Vaitai from Philadelphia or Cordy Glenn from Cincinnati – two linemen within New England’s price range.
Perhaps, second-year left tackle Isaiah Wynn is closing in on a return to practice and the Patriots feel a deal on the offensive line would have been superfluous. But still, the Patriots run-blocking across the entire line has lacked this season and a depth signing for a starting-caliber lineman would have made a world of difference.
Grading What They Did
In terms of the moves that were made, both were excellent deals by the Patriots. New England did need a little added depth at receiver, even with the impending return of N’Keal Harry, and acquired a veteran in Sanu who is under team control through next year and at an affordable rate.
Sanu is one of the best run-blocking slot receivers in the NFL today and his addition to New England could spark a resurgence of variety within the offense. He already showed his ability to block and get open quickly on routes in just one game.
As for offloading Bennett, the short-end of it is that he was unhappy with his situation in New England and the Patriots needed to unload his salary in order to add Sanu. It would have been nice to get a bigger return for Bennett but the deal worked out as a salary dump for New England and the conditions of the draft pick should easily be met.