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Patriots send TE AJ Derby to the Broncos for 2017 5th round draft pick

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The Patriots keep wheeling and dealing!

The New England Patriots have shipped TE AJ Derby to the conference rival Denver Broncos for a 2017 5th round draft pick, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Field Yates.

Derby captured the hearts of Patriots fans with his stellar performance in the preseason, but like many preseason stars before him he was unable to translate that success to the regular season. It also didn’t help that he has been stuck behind two of the top five tight ends in the NFL in Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett.

Derby has played 35 snaps for the Patriots this year, but 20 of those came in week 1 with Gronkowski inactive. He has played just 15 snaps on offense over the past six weeks and he had a minor role on special teams.

The Patriots spent a 2015 6th round pick on Derby, so receiving a 2017 5th round pick is a nice return on investment. The Patriots had sent their 2017 5th round pick to the Browns for LB Barkevious Mingo.

The Patriots also sent a 4th rounder to the Bears for Bennett, which puts the 5th round pick for Derby in nice perspective.

Gronkowski and Bennett are now the only two tight ends on the active roster, which is pretty thin depth. Look for the Patriots to add another tight end in free agency, or to promote a certain Glenn Gronkowski from the practice squad. There is also a chance that the Patriots activate RB Dion Lewis (not likely) or OG Tre Jackson (more likely, but still unlikely) this week.

This is the Patriots second trade of the day after acquiring LB Kyle Van Noy from the Detroit Lions.