Patriots Deal Called One of the Worst Trades of the Decade

Getty Mohamed Sanu

The New England Patriots are riding high and much of their current success can be tied to successful front office decisions that produced Mac Jones, Trent Brown, Christian Barmore, Kyle Van Noy, Kyle Dugger and others.

That said, not every move Bill Belichick has made from a player personnel perspective has worked out. One infamous trade showed up on a dubious list composed by Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox.

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In the article, titled “Worst NFL Trades of the Past Decade,” Belichick’s move to bring WR Mohamed Sanu to Foxboro made the list. Knox wrote:

In October 2019, the Patriots sent a 2020 second-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for Sanu. New England was struggling offensively in what turned out to be Tom Brady’s last year with the franchise and finished the season ranked 18th in passing yards per attempt. The addition of Sanu was supposed to give Brady the reliable perimeter target that he needed. It didn’t. Sanu appeared in eight games for the Patriots, started six and finished with a mere 26 receptions, 207 receiving yards and one touchdown. He provided a passer rating of just 64.8 that year. The following September, the Patriots released Sanu. He spent time with the San Francisco 49ers and Detroit Lions in 2020 and returned to San Francisco this past March. He played eight games this year before landing on injured reserve with a knee sprain. Atlanta ended up with the 55th pick in the 2020 draft, which it then traded to the Baltimore Ravens, who selected running back J.K. Dobbins. Players the Patriots missed out on by dealing the selection include receiver Van Jefferson, running back AJ Dillon and safety Jeremy Chinn. While New England couldn’t know exactly who would be available in the draft, the price was too high for a 30-year-old possession receiver with only 313 yards in the seven games he played for Atlanta in 2019.

There is no question, the Patriots clearly didn’t get anything close to the desired value or results from the Sanu acquisition. The fact they gave up on him in 2020 when the WR corps was so barren only exacerbated the mistake. Were it not for the success the Patriots are having in the 2021 season, Belichick would get even more grief for this trade than he is from Knox and others.

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Where is Mohamed Sanu Now?

Sanu is now with the San Francisco 49ers, his fifth team in his NFL career. He’s played in 8 games this season. Sanu hasn’t started a contest and he has 15 receptions for 177 yards and no TDs.

At 32 years old, the veteran who has battled his share of leg injuries might be toward the end of his NFL rope.

It will be interesting to see if he can stick on an NFL roster in 2022.


The Patriots’ Other Major WR Misstep

While the Sanu trade is an obvious tough spot for the Patriots, it can be argued the drafting of N’Keal Harry is an even bigger mistake.

The Patriots used a first-round selection on Harry in 2019 with guys like DK Metcalf, AJ Brown, Hunter Renfrow, Deebo Samuel and Diontae Johnson still on the board.

Harry was supposed to turn into Tom Brady’s No. 1 receiver, but he has instead been one of the team’s loudest draft busts.

Brady left the Patriots partly because the team didn’t have anything close to the weapons he enjoys with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. You have to wonder if that might have been different if Harry at least came close to panning out.

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