New England Patriots CB Eric Rowe played all but one defensive snap against the New York Jets on Sunday. Rowe played 100% of the snaps the week before against the San Francisco 49ers and 100% of the snaps in week 7 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rowe has racking up the play time and he’s been rewarding the Patriots with quality play since he was benched as a healthy scratch against the Seattle Seahawks. In his two games back, Rowe has been targeted 10 times, allowing 3 receptions for 39 yards.
In fact, Rowe has taken the starting job from CB Logan Ryan (or at least will rotate as a starter based upon opposing personnel), meaning that he will be expected to play the majority of the defensive snaps for the rest of the season.
Remember that the Patriots acquired Rowe days before the season opener in exchange for a conditional 2018 4th round pick. The draft pick would improve to a 2018 3rd round pick if Rowe played at least 50% of the defensive snaps in either 2016 or 2017.
Rowe didn’t play in week 1 since he was acquired less than a week before the season opener. He was sidelined for the next four weeks after injuring his ankle. Since week 6 against the Bengals, Rowe has played 264 of a possible 408 defensive snaps for the Patriots, or approximately 65%- and that’s including playing 0 of the 70 defensive snaps against the Seahawks.
So far, Rowe has played in 35.4% of the Patriots defensive snaps, which is shy of the 50% required to escalate the draft compensation. But with five games remaining, it’s very possible that the conditions will be met and the Patriots will send their 2018 3rd round pick to the Eagles.
If we do some napkin math, we see that the Patriots defense is on pace for 1,084 defensive snaps. Rowe will have to have played in 542 snaps this year to qualify for the escalator. This means Rowe would have to play in roughly 82% of the Patriots remaining defensive snaps.
Rowe can’t miss any of the five remaining games or else the odds of achieving the trade conditions will be pretty much zero. But if he continues to play at a high level, he should see time as the starter opposite of CB Malcolm Butler- and even if he rotates with Ryan, he should still average enough snaps to exceed the trade conditions.