Earlier today, the New England Patriots made their third trade of the offseason. After already acquiring Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Danny Shelton and cornerback Jason McCourty, the Patriots have decided to bring wide receiver and return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson on board. The team traded a fifth round draft pick this year for the 27-year old and a sixth round selection.
Let's dig deeper into what the move means for New England.
New England adds another depth wide receiver...
Despite losing Danny Amendola to the Miami Dolphins in free agency, the Patriots appeared to have sufficient depth at the wide receiver position even before trading for Patterson. However, the former first round draft pick will now add another body to the competition for playing time and roster spots as the ninth wideout currently under contract (in strict alphabetical order):
It certainly looks like the wide receiver position is currently not on the list of the Patriots' draft needs.
...and yet another speedy option
Patterson is a big play threat as both a pass catcher and a ball carrier due to his elite speed. Running the 40-yard dash at 4.42 during the 2013 NFL scouting combine, the Tennessee product now joins a wide receiver depth chart that features two other speedsters: Brandin Cooks and Phillip Dorsett, who both ran the 40 in 4.33. All in all, New England features a lot of breakaway speed on offense.
The Patriots move down between 26 and 58 draft spots
While the exact details of the trade have not yet been made public, we know that the Patriots sent their fifth round draft pick (#159) to Oakland for Patterson and a sixth round selection. The Raiders currently own six picks in the second-to-last round so New England will either receive #185, #192, #210, #212, #216 or #217. At best, the Patriots drop 26 spots to acquire Patterson; at worst the team will move down 58 selections.
Patterson will help as a kick returner, but probably not run back punts
While the 27-year old has had solid receiving numbers over the course of his career, his best work clearly came on special teams. Patterson was named first-team All-Pro as a kickoff returner twice over the course of his five-year career (2013 and 2016) and returned five kickoffs for touchdowns since entering the NFL. He is therefore the favorite to serve as the replacement for Dion Lewis, who left the Patriots via free agency. However, Patterson's return contributions will likely be limited to running back kickoffs: He returned just one punt in his career.
New England acquires another first round wide receiver
By trading for Patterson, the Patriots added another former first round pick to their roster and now have 10 former day one selections under contract. Of those 10 players, four are wide receivers as Patterson joins Brandin Cooks, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt as former first rounders who ultimately wound up in New England. As the team has had its fair share of misses when it comes to early-round wide receiver draft picks, its focus apparently shifted towards acquiring them via trade.
Patterson takes up $3.25 million in salary cap space
For a player who is projected to serve “only” as a depth option at wide receiver and primarily be used as a kickoff returner, Patterson has a healthy salary cap hit of $3.25 million. When it comes to wideouts, his cap number is the fourth-highest on the team behind only the team's top three Brandin Cooks ($8.5 million), Julian Edelman ($4.2 million) and Chris Hogan ($3.3 million). However, a positive of Patterson's contracts is the absence of guarantees: New England could let him go without having to carry any dead money.