I have been on record saying I am content with RBs currently on our roster right now. In other words, if we enter the season with what they've got today, I would not lose too much sleep over it. Nonetheless, unlike the TE position, the RB corp is not completely set in stone just yet. If Belichick and co., can find means to upgrade the position in a cost effective manner, they shouldn't be hesitant to pull the trigger (Disclaimer: this article isn't about Arian Foster).
BB loves to pull a trade with his old disciples and conveniently, there's one of them who has a plethora of RBs on his roster: Jon Robinson of Tennessee Titans.
After trading for DeMarco Murray and drafting Derrick Henry in the second round, there are four competent RBs competing for one or two more spots. It is not too crazy to assume Robinson might be interested in acquiring something out of a player he would eventually lose / release for absolutely nothing.
Here are the four RBs who may or may not be on the trading block.
Andrews was Titans' de facto first string RB last year (520 yards / 3.6 yds per carry) not because he is as good as other 1st string RBs but because the rest of their RB corp underwhelmed. Nonetheless, to me, he looks to be a good niche / complementary player who brings skill sets that Patriots are missing. At 5-10, 225lb, he brings the combination of size, power and violence that can churn tough yards.
Antonio Andrews will earn some fans this evening. Just keeps moving forward, fights for everything.— Cian Fahey (@Cianaf) November 20, 2015
Titans RB Antonio Andrews doesn't have great athleticism, but his balance is awesome. Have to wrap him up.— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) December 17, 2015
There's a growing sentiment among Titans fans that Andrews could be an odd man out because he is practically a lesser, much slower version of Derrick Henry. However, it is also true that Jon Robinson re-signed him as a RFA before drafting Henry even though he had already traded for Murray.
Sankey is an text book example of a talented former high round pick who has not been able to "put it together." He was the first RB to be drafted in 2014 but he hasn't live up to his draft status. Some blame it on poor utilization by coaches who have been axed. Some blame it on their porous OL. Some think he's an athlete who just suck at football.
Skill set wise, compared to Andrews, he is more of a multi dimensional running back with a good long distance speed, which complements aforementioned Henry / Murray very well. Therefore, it is possible the Titans brass could still have hard time to give up on him. However, it is also true he has been a disappointment longer than any other RBs on the roster.
In fact, a lot of trustworthy beat writers / insiders think Patriots trading for Sankey is a realistic possibility.
@DougKyed seems like Titans have a plethora of RBs. Adding Robinson’s tie with BB, how realistic it is to target their reserves via a trade? — @socoolsoco I could potentially see them having interest in Bishop Sankey if he was released or traded. He fits their typical testing numbers and has proven to be a solid pass catcher. Antonio Andrews and David Cobb are big backs, but their testing numbers were far below average based on the Patriots’ typical standards.
Per Mike Reiss
Per Mike Loyko
I heard back in March #Patriots had some talks wit TENN about Sankey, when they were taking calls on Amendola his name came up I believe.— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) June 15, 2016
They obviously didn't value that greatly as he's not on the team. He'll probably be cut or traded for a cond. pick. https://t.co/Laer7CzBxh— Mike Loyko (@NEPD_Loyko) June 15, 2016
Sankey could well be a classic example of low risk - high reward BB reclamation project. Yes he's been a bust thus far but I actually like his odds better than Tyler Gaffney's.
Because Cobb was drafted and had minimal chance to showcase his skill (due to injuries) last year, it is less realistic to assume he will be available right off the bat. He's considered to be a similar RB compared to Andrews (albeit with more upside) therefore, if he's beaten by Andrews, he could well be on a trading block. He was actually one of my favorite prospects from last years' draft and would love to have him here if cost was right.
If the Patriots target a RB at pick 101, Jeremy Langford or David Cobb would be my guys.— James Christensen (@NEPatriotsDraft) May 2, 2015
@Dan_Hatman Really liked David Cobb coming out this year. Unlike much young RB's he understands the concept of North/South running— Jonah Tuls (@JonahTulsNFL) June 16, 2015
McCluster is an average, overpriced 3rd down back / returner set to be a free agent in 2017. Do I want Pats to trade for him? No. But is he relevant to the discussion? Yes. If Titans were willing to part way with both MuCluster and Sankey, they may be interested in our James White whose own roster spot is on a shaky ground.
After all, it is safe to assume it would take an minimum capital to acquire one of potential targets above. None will turn into another Todd Gurley or LeSean McCoy, but the move can still net decent returns relative to the price: Andrews / Cobb offers what current RB corp doesn't while Sankey offers an upside of a 3 down back. The price must be right, but if guys like Reiss or Loyko are insinuating a possibility, at least it would not hurt to entertain the idea, IMO.