Patriots Acquire High-Flying WR in Trade Deadline Deal

Getty Isaiah Ford

The New England Patriots addressed the wide receiver position at Tuesday’s deadline. They didn’t make the kind of major splash some had hoped to see, but there is some reason for optimism.

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Patriots Acquire Isaiah Ford From Dolphins

In a rare deal between AFC East rivals, the Patriots sent a 2022 conditional sixth-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for WR Isaiah Ford. Here’s a little bit about the pass-catcher who projects as a slot receiver for the Patriots.

The deal was swung by the Dolphins to clear up some room for playing time for rookie Lynn Bowden and others. The last time the Dolphins traded with the Patriots, they sent Wes Welker to Foxborough, and we know how that worked out.

Ford’s Skills and Weaknesses

Ford, 24, is known as an outstanding route runner who possesses excellent leaping ability. He hasn’t had a ton of opportunities with the Dolphins, though he was playing regularly this season. In a total of 16 games over three seasons, he has 41 receptions for 428 yards.

Ford isn’t known as a burner. He slipped to the seventh round in 2017 out of Virginia Tech because he ran just under a 4.6 40 time at the NFL Combine. He’s also struggled to remain healthy, which partially explains why he’s only played in 16 games over three seasons.

That said, there is some major upside for him. Ford will make just under $400,000 this season and is an unrestricted free agent, so he fits the mold the Patriots usually target–for better or worse.

Here is a look at a breakdown of his strengths coming out of Va. Tech from Matt Miller of Bleacher Report:

Isaiah Ford is a polished route-runner who can win at the line of scrimmage and down the field. He had back-to-back 75-catch 1,000-plus receiving-yard seasons at Virginia Tech. He has good feet and uses them to beat press coverage. He gets good separation on intermediate routes with his ability to drive back to the ball. Often, on his deep targets the defenders stay on his hip and he must make spectacular catches, which he flashes the ability to do. As he showed with his broad jump of 127 inches, Ford has explosive leaping ability that he uses to outjump defenders He has great body control in the air and near the sidelines, showing nice adjustments to the football. His combination of size, leaping ability and body control give him an excellent catch radius. Using his size, he muscled defensive backs down the field and could gain hidden yardage after the catch.

What Does This Deal Say About the Patriots’ Direction This Year?

The trade suggests the Patriots haven’t totally given up on the concept of competing and challenging the Buffalo Bills for the AFC East crown. That said, it’s a passive attempt to get better rather than the all-in splash many people were hoping to see from the team.

Ford is no Michael Thomas, Julio Jones, Allen Robinson, or even Will Fuller and John Ross, but acquiring him is better than sitting and doing nothing with the team clearly in need of a weapon in the passing game.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions on player personnel moves, Ford has to wait six days before joining his new team. That means he won’t play Monday night against the New York Jets, but barring a setback should be in play for the Week 10 primetime matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. He’ll have about eight games to prove he’s worthy of a deal and to help the Patriots offense improve.

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