I received a great question on Twitter that I thought was worth giving a lengthy response.
The NFL trade deadline is set for November 1st at 4:00 PM EST, which is just 15 days away. There are two weeks of games between now and then, so a lot can change, but we can be certain that the New England Patriots and head coach Bill Belichick will be working the phones to try and upgrade some players on the back-end of the roster.
Whenever we talk about the trade deadline, I have to bring up the fact that it’s ridiculously early in the year. Halfway through the season is not enough time for a team to decide whether or not to mail in the rest of the year; both MLB and the NBA set the deadline two-thirds of the way through the season, while the NHL waits until 75% of the season is done. This allows teams to commit to rebuilding, or double down on the playoffs.
In the NFL, only a handful of teams are able to know if their season is over after eight weeks. The (0-6) Cleveland Browns know their year is over. The (1-5) Chicago Bears and (1-5) San Francisco 49ers are almost done, too. I would have included the (2-4) San Diego Chargers and the (2-3) New Orleans Saints, but they both won this week.
And that’s the point. Any team with a realistic chance of rebounding and going 9-7 to sneak into the final wild card spot will hold on to their talent.
We’ll know more after week 7, but for now the Browns, Bears, and 49ers should be on the Patriots radar as trade partners, especially because Bill Belichick is friendly with all three organizations.
The Patriots typically look for players that are former starters that saw their playing time decrease with the introduction of a new coaching staff, preferably in the last year or two of their rookie contract.
The Patriots acquired LB Barkevious Mingo from the Browns on August 25th after he fell down the depth chart. DT John Hughes is another example, but the Patriots decided to go in a different direction after keeping Hughes for a week. No one else on the Browns really fit the bill.
The Bears are also familiar trade partners to the Patriots, with TE Martellus Bennett joining New England this past March. The two teams have also traded players like LB Jonathan Bostic and OG Ryan Groy in recent years. The only player on the Bears that fits the Patriots profile is LB Christian Jones.
The 6’3, 240 pound Jones is a good athlete with 18 games of starting experience over his first two years in the NFL. He has seen his role decrease in his third season as the Bears signed two top-dollar inside linebacker free agents in Danny Trevathan and Jerrell Freeman. Jones is a strong tackler, ranking 4th in the NFL as a rookie and 2nd as a sophomore, that can play any linebacker position in any defensive front.
With LB Jonathan Freeny on the injured reserve, Jones could serve as a special teams linebacker and as defensive depth.
The 49ers are led by head coach Chip Kelly, who is a good friend of Bill Belichick. Unfortunately, the 49ers are extremely shallow when it comes to depth. There are no players that have been pushed aside in the new coaching regime and no players that no longer fit.
So when you look at the teams that are done for the year, there seems to be just one obvious trade candidate in Christian Jones. Obviously this can and will change over the next two weeks, but don’t be surprised if the Patriots have another quiet trade deadline.