The Patriots are getting linked back to the same well that gave them LeGarrette Blount, Darrelle Revis, and Tim Wright. It looks like the Buccaneers have a few of their top players on the trading block and, naturally, the Patriots are linked.
Tampa hasn't really placed wide receiver Vincent Jackson on the market, but are open to offers and the Patriots have called. Of course, instead of considering it due diligence, everyone is linking the Patriots as an option because Larry Fitzgerald/Andre Johnson trades were so close, Tom Brady needs a weapon, it's an arms race with Denver, and no one actually watches how New England builds their team. Jackson's contract is through 2016, for roughly $9.78 million per season. He's 31.
They have also been shopping around running back Doug Martin, a former first round pick and owner of 1942 yards from scrimmage as a rookie (1454 rushing, 472 receiving). It's as if Tampa has placed a newer running back model in the parking lot and the Patriots are looking to trade in an older model. Unfortunately, he was placed on the injured reserve in his sophomore campaign with a torn labrum (shoulder) and was pulled this week due to an ankle injury. Martin is under his cheap rookie contract through 2015, with an expected option for the 2016 season.
While it's extremely likely that the Patriots are interested in neither and that they're only included in all the rumor reports because Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht is a former Bill Belichick front office acolyte, and that the Patriots always love the league to know that New England is open to all offers, and this is probably just similar to the Patriots allowing Tampa to link New England in a similar fashion to NFL agents using Belichick's name to generate interest...
Well, it just doesn't seem that likely. Add in the expected 2nd round asking price for Jackson and the potential emergence of Jonas Gray, and it doesn't seem like the Patriots will be knocking down the doors to make these trades happen.
If they did, well, I took to Twitter to see what people would view as an acceptable trade:
Pure Madden, but what would you have the Patriots trade away to acquire both VJax and Martin?— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill Dobson, 2nd, Amendola for VJAX and Martin ?— Anthony Stark (@KingJamesBallin) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill 2nd and a 4th— John Carpenter (@John_Carpenter1) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill 2nd and Dobson.— Boris (@BoyinCurtis) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill for both? Dobson, a 2nd and a 4th.— Kyle (@KD9512) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill a second and dobson?— Brett (@BrettPats) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill 2nd rd pick for both— miguel segura (@seguramiguel) October 26, 2014
6 & 4 round picks "@PP_Rich_Hill: Pure Madden, but what would you have the Patriots trade away to acquire both VJax and Martin?"— Kaylon Tshikunguile (@KaylonT_) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill Their soul.— Average Joe (@AverageJoe1993) October 26, 2014
@PP_Rich_Hill how about nothing!!!! Want no part of Martin!!!— Blaise Laveay (@laveay8) October 27, 2014
Baseline? Patriots former second round pick Aaron Dobson and a 2015 2nd round pick for Doug Martin and Vincent Jackson. And maybe their soul.
In my opinion, I don't know how Vincent Jackson would factor into the Patriots offense (and at 31, it would be a totally non-Belichick decision). Any trade would make him a feature member of the offense, alongside Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, and whoever is the running back of the day. Which of the receiving weapons do you rotate out to put Tim Wright on the field? Or for a power running play? Jackson doesn't really fit at this point and the Patriots were probably trying to see if the Bucs would give up Jackson for a ham sandwich.
The trade for Martin would make so much more sense. He's a do-everything back and is of definite starting quality. He's playing on a poor offensive unit and would likely shine in a new environment. His injury shouldn't really affect his performance and a lot can be linked to the weak Buccaneers offensive line. The asking price is expected to be a late rounder (read: 5th round level) which would be right in line with a possible trade.
I don't know how serious the Patriots are testing the trade waters. But their name is forever linked to every player, which is probably how Bill Belichick wants it to be.