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New England Patriots Trade Rumors: Why a trade for Joe Staley or Joe Thomas doesn't make sense

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A trade for 49ers LT Joe Staley or Browns LT Joe Thomas doesn't make sense from an on-field standpoint.

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The Patriots are always looking for ways to improve their team, including making some trades to try to bolster the middle class of the roster every year. Aqib Talib, Akeem Ayers, Jonathan Casillas, and Akiem Hicks were huge additions the seasons they were acquired and helped the Patriots along the way. Talib and Hicks were unable to get Super Bowl victories with the Patriots, but came very close the two years the Patriots lost to the Broncos in the AFCCG. Yesterday, the Patriots traded for 2014 2nd round LB Kyle Van Noy, who is more of a hybrid edge rusher like Shea McClellin, Rob Ninkovich, and Barkevious Mingo. Before the season started they acquired a talented, but injured at the time, CB in Eric Rowe.

The Patriots offensive line, which has been bookended by Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon for most of the season, has been solid all season long. Cameron Fleming has done a solid job as a swing tackle with one start on each side and a solid performance in both games. However, Marcus Cannon is a FA after the season and Cameron Fleming is unproven in terms of being able to start a full season instead of just a handful of games. Unless the Patriots work out an extension for Cannon, whose market should be similar to the previous extension (2 years, $9M) he received from the Patriots with maybe a bump up in pay.

Rich posted earlier this morning that the Patriots are interested in acquiring either Joe Staley from the 49ers or Joe Thomas from the Browns. There's no doubt either player is an upgrade over Cannon from a talent standpoint, but the question becomes how this would work on the field. Between Solder, Cannon, Staley, and Thomas, the player with the most experience at right tackle is the current starter, Marcus Cannon. Solder filled in for a few games at RT his rookie season, but as used mostly as a jumbo TE when the OL was healthy. After Matt Light retired at the conclusion of the season, Solder has only played on the left side. Joe Thomas has been the Browns left tackle since his rookie season. Joe Staley played right tackle as a rookie, but has been the 49ers left tackle since his 2nd season.

The required athleticism to play right tackle is no different than left tackle, but the question becomes footwork. The footwork in pass protection at right tackle is a mirror image of left-tackle and some players just aren't able to do so. Matt Light was an example of that, which is why he wound up at left tackle as a rookie. The question becomes can Thomas and Staley be able to transition to the other side successfully. Neither guy is taking Nate Solder out of the left tackle spot because Solder has been the Patriots best OL all season, plus moving him to right tackle creates a larger ripple effect with the offensive line than any coach would want.

At the end of the day, I don't blame Bill Belichick for being interested in any way, shape, or form to improve his team. The Patriots offense is currently in solid shape and if such a trade doesn't materialize, it's not really a big deal. With the Browns and the 49ers desperate to acquire assets in the form of draft picks for their aging Pro Bowl tackles, I won't rule out the possibility of a deal materializing in the final hours ahead of the trade deadline. From an on-field standpoint, I'm not sure how you integrate Staley or Thomas into the offensive line. However I'm not the one being paid to make these decisions, so if a trade does happen I'll defer to the greatness of Dante Scarnecchia and Bill Belichick.