In October, the New England Patriots shocked the NFL by trading away one of the most talented players on their roster, one considered a building block of their roster: linebacker Jamie Collins. The Pro Bowler was traded to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional third round pick.
The trade worked out well for both the Patriots and Collins. While drastic, the move was a turning point for New England’s defense which ultimately finished the regular season as the top scoring unit in the league. Collins, on the other hand, was recently extended by the Browns and received a 4-year, $50 million contract.
However, according to a report by Ian Rapoport, the Collins-trade might have looked a little different had the Patriots been able to do it on their terms.
Before sending Collins to the Browns, head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots front office called up the Houston Texans to swing a blockbuster trade and exchange of disgruntled superstars. The Patriots wanted to acquire WR DeAndre Hopkins in exchange for Collins.
“That was a non-starter for the Texans,” according to Rapoport, “even with Hopkins battling uneven quarterback play.”
Just the fact that the Patriots tried to add Hopkins shows how much they wanted to improve their receiver corps with a blue chip receiver. The fact that Collins was traded before the injury to TE Rob Gronkowski shows the Patriots attempt to create the most ridiculous offense the NFL has ever seen.
Hopkins was the Texans first round pick in 2013 and is under contract through 2017. He will turn 25 years of age before next season. He has averaged 1,228 receiving yards over the past three seasons, despite horrendous quarterback play. The Patriots were potentially interested in drafting Hopkins back in 2013, but immediately traded down with the Minnesota Vikings after the Texans made their selection two picks ahead of New England’s first round selection.
The Patriots ended up adding Collins, CB Logan Ryan, WR Josh Boyce, and using the acquired 7th round pick to trade for RB LeGarrette Blount.
After the Texans nixed any potential Collins-Hopkins swap, the Patriots showed interest in 32-year-old CB Jonathan Joseph, with Rapoport noting that “New England loves” Joseph. Joseph represents a far lesser value than Hopkins, so this is a curious change of pace. Remember at this point in the season Logan Ryan was about to be benched and Eric Rowe had not yet emerged as a contributor at cornerback. Fortunately for New England, both players emerged in the second half of the season.
A trade between the Patriots and the Texans didn’t work out, but the attempt shows an interesting mind set from the Patriots- and sheds some light on the Patriots willingness to add former Cardinals WR Michael Floyd. Floyd isn’t as talented as Hopkins, but it’s clear the Patriots wanted to add a prototypical outside receiver to the roster.