Even though the New England Patriots invested in two linebackers during this year’s draft, the team got only limited contributions out of them: sixth-round pick Christian Sam was placed on injured reserve at the roster cutdown deadline, fifth-round selection Ja’Whaun Bentley joined him on the list just four weeks later. Bentley in particular hurt the team as he was having a good year and in the midst of emerging as the team’s third linebacker.
With the Purdue product reportedly out for the year with a torn biceps, New England might be in the market for more depth at linebacker. One potential target could be the Arizona Cardinals’ Haason Reddick. The 2017 first-round selection is reportedly on the trade block and advanced analytics website Pro Football Focus recently proposed the Patriots to make a move by offering a future fourth-round draft pick.
Is this a realistic idea, though?
From the Cardinals’ point of view it very well might be. Before being on the field for all 98 snaps during Sunday’s win over the San Francisco 49ers, Reddick played only 30 snaps through the team’s first four games of the season. The team might therefore be willing to listen to offers and adding a fourth-rounder to their draft capital could ultimately be enough to to acquire a player whose future in Arizona appears to be in doubt.
But even if the team was willing to accept a fourth-round offer from the Patriots, would such a move make sense from New England’s point of view?
It would from a personnel perspective: Reddick, who has the versatility to line up both on and off the line of scrimmage as a defensive end/outside linebacker-hybrid, would add high-upside depth to a group currently headed by Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts. While he would primarily serve as a rotational player, he would likely be an over the other linebackers on the team – special teams aces Nicholas Grigsby and Brandon King.
His contract is another reason why such a move would work for New England. Playing on the second year of his rookie deal, Reddick would be under the team’s control for two more seasons after this one. Additionally, he would be a comparatively cheap option at a salary cap hit of $1.07 million in 2018. While the Patriots have only $1.66 million in salary cap space available, they would have to drop another player to add Reddick – effectively lowering his impact on the current cap space.
The two main questions that remain and cannot be answered from the outside, however, are the ones that could make or break a deal: 1.) Would the Cardinals really be willing to part ways with a former first-round draft pick after not even two whole seasons? 2.) Would the Patriots be willing to sacrifice capital to add a boom-or-bust project during the year Knowing New England, it would not be a surprise to see its question answered with a “yes”.
That does not mean it will happen even if it would make sense in theory, though.