Has there been a New England Patriots team that’s been considered to be out of the running for a postseason push by the trade deadline in the last two decades? Usually, the Patriots are considered to be one of the teams that look to add onto their roster by adding receivers or additional pieces to the roster to make another typical Super Bowl push. It’s something we’ve all become accustomed to as we’ve watched the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick dynasty. Now it’s much different. New England sits at 2-4 on the season coming off of that dreadful 33-6 loss against the San Francisco 49ers at home which gives Patriots fans all of the ammunition they need to truly believe the season is over before it really is. It’s a position fans aren’t really accustomed to, and now they look at a roster that has players that have value, but are being wasted on a team that probably isn’t going to be making too much noise come playoff time.
Just to speak on why the Patriots are in a position to sell before we dive into the players that could be shipped off ahead of the deadline, this team isn’t good enough to seriously compete. The defense, as fine as it’s been, just got its doors blown off by a 49ers team that was running around with Jeff Wilson Jr. and JaMycal Hasty at running back. Meanwhile, offensively, they’re sputtered, putting up just 28 points in the last three games. Quarterback Cam Newton has been terrible since his return from the COVID-19/reserve list and the offense just doesn’t have a lick of competitiveness in them. Looking at the Patriots schedule to finish the year, they may finish as a 6-10 team. If New England has a top 12 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, they should be selling off the players with value to have more ammunition to get a serious injection of youth to this roster. There’s just no point at this juncture to try and pretend that you’re competitive. The Patriots can’t just depend on the Buffalo Bills to collapse and the Miami Dolphins to stop their uptick just to make a Wild Card round exit. It’s time to rebuild in New England, and these are the players that you trade away to commence the process.
The rumors are already swirling about trading away reigning Defensive Player of the Year cornerback Stephon Gilmore. Hell, they were making their rounds all offseason after Brady departed and this team was looking rather worse for ware on both sides of the football. Losing linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins certainly didn’t help the Patriots case of being a true contender. The emergence of fellow corner J.C. Jackson also makes Gilmore expendable. Why not capitalize on the value that the best cornerback in the NFL brings to the table? While the team is reportedly shopping him, there have been no rumors about the value. Though you have to imagine a top-end talent like him has to be worth at least a first-round pick in the upcoming draft. I love Gilmore as much as the next guy, but it’s time for Patriots fans to start looking at this team as a rebuild, and not so much a minor re-tool as we all thought after starting 2-1 on the season. There’s also been the report of Gilmore actually putting his house up for sale, so this pours gas onto the fire. That or he’s just preparing to not be with the team after this year should he not be traded at the deadline (Nov. 3).
We should also be talking about wide receiver Julian Edelman. The former Super Bowl MVP is now 34 years old and to be quite honest, hasn’t shown the energy and the grit that we’ve grown so used to seeing out of him. Since Brady’s departure, Edelman has been arguably the face of the franchise. Through the turnover and reshaping of this entire offense, Edelman is the longest-tenured Patriot of that unit. Though even if we want to trade him, I’m not sure what his value will be. He’s had a multitude of injuries over the course of the last couple of years and isn’t getting any younger. Edelman is a slot receiver that plays the most physically tolling style of football that you possibly could at that position. If there’s any interest, I’d advise Belichick to take what he can and move on. But I wouldn’t be shocked if we’re holding on to Edelman until the end of his contract next season.
Another valuable piece that the Patriots should look to sell is offensive lineman Joe Thuney. He’s currently playing under the $13.5M franchise tag and will be an unrestricted free agent come the new league year in March. Thuney is without a doubt one of the top guards in this league. The Philadelphia Eagles inquired about trading for him back in June but the talks went nowhere, likely because this team still looked like it had a shot at making a playoff appearance and compete for the AFC East. Pending a win on Sunday against the Bills, this doesn’t seem like the case anymore. Through Newton’s struggles after returning from his COVID-19 episode, the passing attack has been laughable. I also think with the emergence of Michael Onwenu, the Patriots can afford to trade Thuney away. As an elite player of his position, like Gilmore, he should bring in great compensation.
That being said, it’s a weird sight to see when you think about the Patriots at the deadline. As said at the beginning of this article the Patriots are usually buyers when it comes to the trade deadline. But I promise you there’s no reason to buy in on this team any further. Newton is just as guilty of holding the offense back as the inexperienced receiving core (besides Edelman who’s barely scraping by at this point). As far as the defense goes they can’t get off the field. Both because their own offense doesn’t give them a break and they let the opposition run them over! If you see any reason to be optimistic about the state of the New England Patriots, let me know. I don’t think even Belichick can make this team capable of winning a playoff game, and that says a lot.
Photo Credit: Charles Krupa, AP Photo