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Mike Lombardi explains why the Patriots traded Jacoby Brissett for Phillip Dorsett

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The former Patriots executive and Bill Belichick confidant shared the team’s reasoning for their latest transaction.

New York Giants v New England Patriots Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The New England Patriots swung a rare player-for-player trade with the Indianapolis Colts by exchanging 2016 third round QB Jacoby Brissett for 2015 first round WR Phillip Dorsett. Brissett was at risk of not making the New England roster and Dorsett was floundering in Indianapolis.

So the two teams struck a deal.

Former New England Patriots exec and The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi explains why the teams made the trade on his podcast called “GM Street”.

Why the Colts wanted to trade Dorsett

“Indianapolis had been shopping Dorsett pretty much all spring,” Lombardi said. “They want to get bigger at receiver, they want to be able to have guys that can block, they want guys that can help out in the run game. They don’t want to have all these little receivers running around, that don’t play in the kicking game, that can’t affect the whole team and can’t do the things they need them to do and run all the routes.”

The Colts have the 5’9, 180 pound T.Y. Hilton as their small receiver, with 5’10, 185 pound Quan Bray taking Dorsett’s spot on the team. The other receivers are the 6’1 Matt Hazel, 6’1 Chester Rogers, 6’2 Kamar Aiken, and 6’2 Donte Moncrief. The Colts were able to get bigger at receiver, which they hope will help with run blocking down the field.

The implication is also that Dorsett can’t run all the route- he’s just a straight line receiver- and he doesn’t contribute on special teams. The Colts wanted more well-rounded receivers.

Why the Patriots wanted Dorsett

“I think the Dorsett trade is more about moving Chris Hogan into the slot,” Lombardi said. “I think Hogan replaces [Julian] Edelman and Dorsett gives them somebody you have to guard on the outside. Okay, so Dorsett isn’t a great receiver, this isn’t like the Patriots got another Brandin Cooks, let’s be real honest here, they got a guy who can run fast. He’s a decoy.”

“It’s gonna be the clearing routes, it’s gonna be getting them out of the way,” Lombardi added about Dorsett’s role. “I think it’s gonna be Donte Stallworth-ish.”

I believe the Patriots had their ideal offensive playbook with Cooks and Hogan on the outside and Rob Gronkowski at tight end, running clearing routes and opening up the field underneath for Edelman in the slot. The injury to Edelman moved Hogan into the slot, opening up a spot for a receiver to run clearing routes on the outside.

Malcolm Mitchell is an injury risk, although I wouldn’t be surprised if he staved Dorsett off to retain the role. Mitchell’s no slouch when it comes to speed and his 4.45s 40 yard dash could be more valuable than Dorsett’s 4.33s when you factor in that Mitchell can run more routes. Still, the Patriots wanted to have extra depth on the outside in case of injury and Dorsett still offers a lot of potential as a former first round pick.

Why the Patriots traded Brissett

“When you can trade a replaceable player for a guy that they needed to do a specific thing,” Lombardi said, “which is what Dorsett will do, which is clear out routes, then you make that trade.”

Lombardi also noted that Brissett wasn’t drafted with the intention to replace Garoppolo as the back-up or to eventually be the #2 if Brady retires. Lombardi implied that Bill Parcells simply did a great job selling Brissett to Bill Belichick as a good leader and an immediate impact player during Tom Brady’s suspension.

But Lombardi also said that the Patriots had concerns about Brissett’s accuracy and ability to anticipate coverages and to throw receivers open. They didn’t see the progress and development from Brissett in year one to year two that they had hoped and they believed him to be closer to the frustrating quarterback from the first two weeks of the preseason than the dynamo in the preseason finale.

Lombardi called Brissett “replaceable” with the expectation that the team will sign a quarterback to the practice squad that can provide roughly the same value as Brissett, but without taking up a roster spot.

So in Lombardi’s eyes, neither team acquired a stud. They’re both still prospects on the ascent, but with very apparent limitations in their current position. Dorsett can only run straight lines and won’t help on special teams. Brissett has accuracy problems, which is a bad thing for a quarterback.

Both players have three years left on their rookie deals and there’s a chance both could blossom. But if Lombardi is right, we could be thinking of this trade in a couple years with nothing more than a shoulder shrug.