With free agency quickly approaching and trades being made every day in the NFL, New England has already been busy. After acquiring Michael Bennet from the Philadelphia Eagles for a swap of a fifth- and seventh-round draft pick, the Patriots have still been heavily in the market for multiple players.
Here are a few moves that are still possible, and what it would likely take for New England.
Odell Beckham Jr
This has been the most popular name on the Patriots rumor mill for months now. Fueled by reports of the Patriots pushing hard to acquire the star wide receiver last season and social media interaction between Beckham and Tom Brady, Patriots fans have been dreaming of #12 and #13 teaming up. While Beckham might be a great fit in the Patriots offense (or any offense for that matter) the details of the trade would be more complicated then one imagined.
The first complication with the Beckham trade is the five-year, 95 million dollar contract that has $65 million in guaranteed money attached to it. If New England wanted this to work, the first step would be to shed salary which could include re-working Devin McCourty’s contract, cutting Adrian Clayborn and hoping Rob Gronkowski retires.
The second step for the Patriots is what it would take to acquire Beckham. Over the past year, the NFL has been able to see exactly what the value is for wide receivers based on their talent and contract. Just recently we saw Antonio Brown, who many consider the top receiver in the game go for a third and fifth round pick. We could have seen Brown go for more, but because of his contract and leverage, Pittsburgh didn’t have much of a choice. Amari Cooper, while not as talented as Brown, went for a first. His contract was much more team-friendly and he was not threatening to hold out of games. So what exactly would a top-3 receiver in the game with a lengthy contract go for?
All things considered, If New England wants this trade to happen it’ll have to be their first round pick and maybe a swap in the later rounds. As far as value, if you get a player as talented as OBJ with the 32nd overall pick, its a win. However, Beckham will go for more than Brown based on the fact he does like New York and would be okay with staying there especially if a Dwayne Haskins/ Saquon Barkley duo is on the way.
With all the talk of getting Brady help for the upcoming season, the talk of his replacement has quieted down. Rosen has been a name that has been floated around after rumors of the Cardinals wanting to take quarterback Kyler Murray with the first overall pick in the draft. After drafting Rosen tenth overall last year, it will be tough to give up on a quarterback they thought less than a year ago would be their franchise star. However, in today’s NFL, teams can not afford to hold onto players who they don’t believe in simply because they used a high draft pick on him.
For the Cardinals, this would be something they want to get done as soon as possible. With the possibility of Arizona taking a pass-rusher first overall, the team does not seem as desperate to get a deal done. However, if Josh Rosen is still on the team after the first selection of the 2019 draft, and that selection is Kyler Murray, the leverage of Arizona drastically drops. Teams would be hesitant to give anything more than a late round pick knowing Arizona would then have to roster two top-ten quarterbacks picked in back-to-back years.
If New England believes Rosen is the guy for the future, and Arizona believes their guy is Murray, a third-round pick should get the deal done. A third rounder for the number ten overall pick the year before is an absolute bargain for New England, and if Arizona believes they have truly found their guy, there is no price too large to pay for a franchise quarterback. If the Patriots aren’t sure if Rosen is the guy, but believes he has potential, they may wait until draft day and try to get him at even more of a bargain, although by then the Cardinals may have found another suitor.
There are a plethora of names floated around the New England media in free agency that seem to make sense. Some familiar faces, as well as some that have been linked to the team for years and just have never seemed to work out.
The Hollister brothers, the McCourty twins and now the Bennett brothers. Sign a Gronkowski brother and it will be a family gathering. The question for Bennet is how much he still has left in the tank. After retiring halfway through 2017 and taking the all of last season off, it remains to be seen if he has enough left to play at a high level. He would certainly help the depth at the tight end position if the Patriots can’t land a guy like Tyler Eifert. Once again, Bennett knows the system and the motivation of winning a ring with his brother could be enough for him to make an impact. Bennett wouldn’t be my first choice of a back-up tight end, but he wouldn’t be my last either.
If Gordon is allowed back in the league, he is someone the Patriots would be interested in bringing back. With the public still not exactly sure what caused Gordon to be suspended, if he has spent the off-season rehabbing and will come back for New England for cheap, it is a no-brainer bringing him back. The typical low-risk, high-reward strategy that has rewarded the Patriots so many times before. While not many people trust Gordon will make it through a full season, and rightfully so, it’s worth a shot with the talent he possesses.
This list had to start with Tate. The veteran receiver has been linked to the Patriots for years. After many unsuccessful attempts to acquire the receiver through a trade, he now hits the open market as a free agent. Already expressing interest in playing for New England, it seems Tate is very open to wearing red, white and blue to start the year. He is also a perfect scheme fit receiver, as a guy that can play both inside and outside the numbers and the quickness to shake any defensive back. This should be New England’s top offensive priority.
Another name that the Patriots inquired about during last season’s trade deadline. Although a deal was never completed, Cobb drew strong interest from New England. Another receiver that could fit well into the Patriots system, the Patriots may invest. This time, it wouldn’t cost them more than whatever salary they pay him.
While free-agency does not officially start until Wednesday, there are still many rumors across the NFL. Because Bennett is retired, he could sign earlier than Wednesday. Although someone like Amendola may have other suitors (i.e, Detriot), it seems Bennett will only come back if he can play in a Patriots uniform. Whatever the Patriots decide to do, this could go down as one of the most crucial off-seasons in team history.