The New England Patriots continue to make in-season trades with bad teams.
In 2012, it was the 26-year old cornerback Aqib Talib.
In 2013, it was the 32-year old defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga.
In 2014, it was the 27-year old linebacker Jonathan Casillas and 25-year old edge rusher Akeem Ayers.
In 2015, it's 25-year old defensive tackle Akiem Hicks and 24-year old linebacker Jon Bostic.
Don't think for a second that Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio are done- there's still room to improve the roster.
There is a clear strategy for the Patriots approach in player acquisition as they trade for expiring contracts from teams that have given up on the season. Talib, Casillas, Ayers, and Hicks were all in their final contract years. Sopoaga was an emergency acquisition after the entire defensive line was decimated by injury, and Bostic was a buy-low opportunity.
New England looks for young players that could find a season's worth of redemption and hit the market for a solid contract that would provide the Patriots with a compensatory draft pick. A player that picks up a free agency contract worth $3 million per year, which is what Akeem Ayers received from the St. Louis Rams, the Patriots will receive a 6th round compensatory pick.
Turn the acquired player into a rotational piece and the Patriots will receive a late round pick. It's why Belichick didn't hesitate to throw a 6th round pick to acquire Bostic- New England's going to have too many 6th round picks in 2016.
The Patriots have looked to the trade block to bolster positions and there's no question that cornerback is a position of need. Bradley Fletcher was a healthy scratch, even though Tarell Brown was too injured to play against the Jaguars. Undrafted free agent Justin Coleman played heavy snaps across from Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan. The team could use help.
Here are the players that could possibly fit the requirements of being a young, pending free agent, starting quality talent on a bad team.
All of these players won't be available, but they're worth inquiring about.
The Chiefs just lost a cornerback to the injured reserve, but with Sean Smith returning to the field Cooper could be a possibility. The Rams might believe they still have a chance in their division and wouldn't be willing to part with these players until later in the season.
Moore and Sensabaugh are interesting because they would be quality additions and their teams aren't contenders. Moore is a former Patriot and would be able to slide into the roster fairly seamlessly, while Sensabaugh would fill the slot cornerback position that the Patriots need to fill.
Of course, both players have higher regarded teammates that don't meet the standard Belichick trade criteria, yet would still make interesting options. Jason McCourty, brother to the Patriots All Pro free safety, would be fun to add to the secondary, but would come at a hefty price tag.
A more reasonable option would be Buccaneers cornerback Alterraun Verner, who was benched for unknown reasons. Verner is a versatile corner and, coincidentally, former teammate of Jason McCourty. Verner was a possible target for the Patriots before the 2014 season and has a relationship with Devin McCourty.
Verner also had an interesting take on contracts during the free agency period.
"I feel more compelled to go to a team that I think can win. I haven't had that experience for the past four years in Tennessee," Verner said in 2014, as transcribed by Pro Football Talk. "Money is [priority] but it isn't. I look at it differently. Some look at it tangibly. I look at it as more of a respect value. I would feel more obliged to go to a team that paid me $6 or $7 million and made me one of the highest-paid players on the team than go to a team that paid me $8 or $9 million and I wasn't one of the highest-paid players on the team."
Verner is slated for $4.25 million this year, far below market value for a Pro Bowl cornerback, and would give the Patriots control through the 2017 season at $6.75 million and $6.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
The Patriots went with Darrelle Revis over Verner in the 2014 offseason, which paid off, but could be interested in making another attempt at a match. If Verner wanted to be one of the highest paid players on the team, he would slide in right behind Julian Edelman's 2015 cap hit and 9th overall for the Patriots.
New England has a history of making it work with the Buccaneers- so why not make the call and see what happens?