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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s best trade with every NFL team

Now that he’s traded with all 31 other teams, a look at his best trade with each of them.

New England Patriots Practice Photo by Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

After trading Demaryius Thomas to the New York Jets earlier this week (it is fitting that the final team he would trade with was the Jets), Bill Belichick has now made at least one trade with all 31 other franchises in the NFL. This, of course, is only counting his time in New England, and not his time in Cleveland. I figured, since he has made a trade with every team in the league, I would break down the best ones with each team.

Before I get started, you should know that Belichick has made 150 trades since he took over in 2000, and this exercise would not have been possible without Pro Football Reference having every trade from every season listed. Also, a quick thanks to my soon-to-be brother in law, Mike Langone, for helping out with the research when I couldn’t sift through all 150 trades again.

Let’s get this started. I thought breaking down by division would be the easiest way to grasp all the information, so that’s how I’ve broken it down.

AFC EAST: 6 Total Trades

New York Jets - 1 Trade

2019 - Traded Demaryius Thomas to the Jets for a 6th in 2021. The trade that launched this article, so I guess it’s important, since it’s the reason you’re reading this.

Buffalo Bills - 2 Trades

2002 - Traded Drew Bledsoe to the Bills for a 1st (14) in 2003. The Patriots would package that pick with a sixth rounder to move up one spot and take Ty Warren, a decent contributor in 2003, and a starter from 2004-2009.

Miami Dolphins - 3 Trades

2007 - Traded a 2nd (60) and a 7th (238) to Miami for Wes Welker. Welker was a restricted free agent, but the Patriots wanted to make sure that they would not be outbid for him. They threw in a seventh round-pick to the second-round compensation the Dolphins would have gotten had he left as an RFA, and just traded for him instead. The trade turned out okay, I think. He put up over 100 catches and 1,000 yards every season except 2010, when he was recovering from an ACL tear at the end of 2009. Welker’s stretch of dominance is one that might be unmatched, and he revolutionized the way the slot receiver is used in the NFL.

AFC NORTH: 20 Total Trades

Cincinnati Bengals - 4 Trades

2004 - Traded a 2nd (56) to the Bengals for Corey Dillon. Dillon would go on to have one of the most productive seasons ever by a Patriots back. He broke the team’s single season rushing record in 2004, and was a huge reason why the Patriots won their second consecutive championship. After never playing in the playoffs, he rushed for almost 150 yards in the divisional game, and a touchdown in both the AFC Championship and Super Bowl 39. Dillon would finish his three-year stay with the Patriots with a whopping 41 rushing TDs (including playoffs), accounting for almost half of his 86 total career rushing scores.

Pittsburgh Steelers - 2 Trades

2001 - Traded a 2nd (39) to the Steelers for a 2nd (50) and a 4th (112). Belichick packaged the 50the pick in 2001 with a sixth to move up to #48 and take Matt Light. A Patriots Hall of Famer, and maybe my favorite draft day story of all time. He was on the phone with the Jets, who were drafting at 49, when he got a call from the Patriots saying they moved up to 48 and were drafting him.

Cleveland Browns - 8 Trades

2018 - Traded a 6th (205) pick to the Browns for Jason McCourty and a 7th (219). McCourty was a reliable corner who made some great plays in the Super Bowl, and they got him for basically nothing. Plus, he’s the second half of the McCourty twins, which makes him invaluable.

Baltimore Ravens - 6 Trades

2003 - Traded a 1st (19) to the Ravens for a 2nd (41) and a 1st (21) in 2004. The second was later packaged with a third and sent to the Houston Texans and turned into Eugene Wilson and Dan Klecko. With the first in 2004, the Patriots selected Vince Wilfork, arguably one of the best nose tackles in NFL history. Throw in the fact that the Ravens drafted Kyle Boller at #19, and this is one of the best trades of the Belichick era.

AFC SOUTH: 13 Total Trades

Indianapolis Colts - 1 Trade

2017 - Traded Jacoby Brissett to Colts for Phillip Dorsett. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Belichick never traded with Bill Polian and Tony Dungy. The franchises did make their first move together since Belichick took over right before the 2017 regular season started, though. After Sunday, Brissett will have started more games at quarterback than Andrew Luck since the trade, so it’s pretty hard to call this an outright win for the Patriots. With that being said, Dorsett is a valuable piece for the Patriots — one who has consistently made clutch plays in big moments. This one goes down as a win-win.

Houston Texans - 7 Trades

2011 - Traded a 2nd (60) to the Texans for a 3rd (73) and a 5th (138). The Patriots used the third on Stevan Ridley and the fifth on Marcus Cannon. Ridley was never a stud, but he did start for this team for a few years, and Cannon, who fell in the draft thanks to his battle with cancer, has grown to be an important piece of the offensive line.

Jacksonville Jaguars - 2 Trades

2009 - Traded a 3rd (73) to the Jaguars for a 7th (232) and a 2010 2nd (44). In the seventh round, the Patriots took college quarterback Julian Edelman. Just in case that didn’t make this trade great enough, they used the second to move up in 2010 and take Rob Gronkowski. I’d say this goes down as one of the biggest wins of Belichick’s, or anyone else’s, career.

Tennessee Titans - 4 Trades

2003 - Traded a 5th (154) and a 7th (225) to the Titans for a 5th (164), 6th (201), and 7th (243). The Patriots drafted long-time center Dan Koppen with the fifth-round pick, and current NFL head coach Kliff Kingsbury with the sixth-rounder. That’s a pretty solid trade right there, even if Kingsbury never played for the Patriots.

AFC WEST: 25 Total Trades

Denver Broncos - 9 Trades

2012 - Traded a 1st (31) and a 4th (126) to the Broncos for a 1st (25). New England would select Dont’a Hightower at #25. He’s become the cornerstone of the team’s front seven through three Super Bowl wins, and one of the most important players not only on the defense but on the entire team. His impact goes beyond his play on the field, because his locker room presence is so good, and he is able to communicate so effectively with the defense.

Los Angeles Chargers - 2 Trades

2008 - Traded a 3rd (69) to the Chargers for a 5th (160) and a 2009 2nd (47). It’s not so much about what the Patriots got here, but what they did next. They traded #160 and a seventh (238) to the Bucs for #153, where they took Matthew Slater. It’s true that he’s a special teamer, but he’s also one of the most important people in the locker room, and is a weapon on the field.

Kansas City Chiefs - 4 Trades

2009 - Traded Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a 2nd (34). The Patriots would draft Patrick Chung at #34, and although they didn’t know what to do with him the first time around, he has become an incredibly important piece to the defense. Also, with the trade of Vrabel, it was the beginning of the end for the other big names from the first dynasty, as within a few years, many of the big names would retire or move on, leaving only Tom Brady.

Oakland Raiders - 10 Trades

2007 - Traded a 4th (110) for Randy Moss. Arguably one of the five best trades in NFL history, the Patriots got a Hall of Fame receiver for a fourth-round pick. All Moss would do is catch 23 touchdown passes in 2007, and he still has the second most touchdown receptions ever from Brady, despite only playing 2.5 seasons with him. Unfortunately, Brady would get hurt in 2008, and Moss would shoot his way out of town in 2010, but it was amazing while it lasted.

NFC EAST: 17 Total Trades

Dallas Cowboys - 3 Trades

2010 - Traded a 1st (24) and a 4th (119) to the Cowboys for a 1st (27) and 3rd (90). The Cowboys would draft Dez Bryant at #24, leaving some Patriots fans upset, but the Patriots drafted Devin McCourty at #27, and he has become the glue on this defense. I think McCourty might just be the second most important player on the defense, and top five on the team.

Washington Redskins - 4 Trades

2002 - Traded a 1st (32), a 3rd (96), and a 7th (234) to the Redskins for a 1st (21). The Patriots would take Daniel Graham at #21. Was Graham great? No, but it’s a better trade than the one they made for Albert Haynesworth. Also, quick note, Washington’s Patrick Ramsey became the first ever #32 first-round pick, so at least the quarterback did something in his career.

Philadelphia Eagles - 9 Trades

2016 - Traded a 4th (131) to the Eagles for Eric Rowe. Rowe gets a bad rap for his performance in Super Bowl 52, where he actually played pretty well. He also played very well in 2016, and helped the Patriots win Super Bowl 51. For that reason, this is on the list here, but could possibly be replaced by this year’s trade for Michael Bennett, depending on how things go this season.

New York Giants - 1 Trade

2009 - Traded a conditional draft pick to the Giants for Michael Matthews. Pretty surprising that Belichick has only made one trade with his old team, maybe he feels bad fleecing them like he does to everyone else. As for Matthews, he finished his career with eight catches, and none of them were as a member of the Patriots, but he did play in four games for them in 2009 (not enough for trade conditions to be met, however). So, you learned about a player you probably never knew existed. You’re welcome.

NFC NORTH: 29 Total Trades

Minnesota Vikings - 4 Trades

2013 - Traded a 1st (29) to the Vikings for a 2nd(52), a 3rd (83), a 4th (102), and a 7th . (229). The Vikings would draft Cordarrelle Patterson at #29, who actually helped the Patriots win the Super Bowl last season, but the Patriots got back far more in return. They would draft Jamie Collins Sr. in the second, Logan Ryan in the third, and use the seventh in a package to get LeGarrette Blount. All three of them were big parts of the 2014 Super Bowl champs, and Blount and Ryan were there for 2016’s title as well. Now, Collins is back to hopefully continue to contribute for the Patriots. Regardless, this was one of the most fruitful trades of Belichick’s career.

Green Bay Packers - 8 Trades

2002 - Traded Terry Glenn to the Packers for a 4th (126). They weren’t all good trades with the Packers, as Michael Felger will happily remind you, but this one worked out pretty well. Former first-round pick Terry Glenn never worked out under Belichick, and he would be able to take Jarvis Green, a pretty good defensive lineman, with that 126nd overall pick.

Detroit Lions - 8 Trades

2016 - Traded a 6th (215) to the Lions for a 7th (239) and Kyle Van Noy. Kyle Van Noy was one of the best players on the defense during last season’s playoff run, and the Patriots got him from the Lions for pretty much nothing. They have a few good ones with the Lions, but this is definitely the best.

Chicago Bears - 9 Trades

2016 - Traded a 4th (127) to the Bears for a 6th (204) and Martellus Bennett. Patriots fans were excited about the possibility of Martellus Bennett and Rob Gronkowski together in the offense. When Gronk went down, however, Bennett stepped up and played extremely well, both receiving and blocking. It’s hard to imagine the Patriots completing that great comeback in Super Bowl 51 without Bennett at tight end.

NFC SOUTH - 19 Total Trades

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - 6 Trades

2012 - Traded a 4th (126) to the Bucs for a 7th (226) and Aqib Talib. Aqib Talib may have only been with the Patriots for a few years, but he was dominant when he was in town. I think he was the catalyst to Belichick revamping the secondary in 2014. Talib was the best shutdown cornerback the Patriots had on the team since Ty Law left. Not to mention the quotes, it might rank high for those alone. Mindset’s to win!

New Orleans Saints - 7 Trades

2008 - Traded a 1st (7) and a 5th (164) to the Saints for a 1st (10) and a 3rd (78). At #10 the team drafted the defensive rookie of the year, future Patriots Hall of Famer, and current Patriots assistant, Jerod Mayo. Unfortunately, their pick of Shawn Crable was a bust, but it was still a very successful trade. Move back, pick up an extra pick, and still get the guy you would’ve taken at seven.

Carolina Panthers - 3 Trades

2003 - Traded a 2nd (50) and a 4th (120) to the Panthers for a 2nd (45). At 45, the Patriots ended up drafting Bethel Johnson, who was a good returner for them for a while. Also, a fun note, after the Panthers moved up and traded #120 to Denver, the Patriots slipped back into that spot and drafted Asante Samuel.

Atlanta Falcons - 3 Trades

2017 - Traded Jordan Richards to the Falcons for a conditional 7th (2020 Draft). They didn’t get much back, but they were able to dump Jordan Richards. I always liked Richards as a special teamer, but, after Super Bowl 52, his name will forever live in infamy in New England. The team needed to move on, and it was able to get something in return for the former second-round pick as well.

NFC WEST - 20 Total Trades

Seattle Seahawks - 5 Trades

2006 - Traded Deion Branch to the Seahawks for a 1st (24) in 2007. Some people claim that the Patriots would’ve won the Super Bowl in 2006 with Branch. I continuously have to remind those people that they are stupid, and that the Patriots lost the AFC Championship Game 38-34 that season, but it doesn’t seem to do any good. Regardless, getting a first for Branch was a steal, and getting him back a few years later for a fourth makes this trade even better. Also, having two picks in the first round of the 2007 draft led to maybe the best trade in NFL history. Speaking of which...

San Francisco 49ers - 4 Trades

2007 - Traded a 1st (28) to the 49ers for a 4th (110) and a 1st (7) in 2008. One of the most incredible trades of all time. The Patriots would flip #110 to Oakland for Randy Moss, and then move back three spots the next year to take Jerod Mayo. To me, this trade and the Branch trade will forever be linked. I know the Branch trade netted them #24, where they took Brandon Meriweather, but having two picks allowed them to make this trade.

Arizona Cardinals - 5 Trades

2016 - Traded Chandler Jones to the Cardinals for a 2nd (61) and Jonathan Cooper. This is another example of the trade being a success not because of what they got back, but what they did with the asset once they acquired it. The Patriots flipped #61 to the Saints in exchange for #78 and #112, where they took Malcolm Mitchell and Joe Thuney. They don’t win Super Bowl 51 without Mitchell and Thuney — the latter being a fantastic starting guard for the Patriots.

Los Angeles Rams - 6 Trades

2018 - Traded Brandin Cooks to the Rams for a 1st (23). The Patriots took Isaiah Wynn at #23, and, although it’s very early, this seems like a big win. Cooks had two huge drops in the Super Bowl, and Wynn has looked great so far this season. The wideout obviously is a special talent, but he just never seemed to completely gel with Tom Brady and the Patriots offense, and he was never getting the big money here that he got from LA.

We made it! Thanks for sticking this one all the way out. It was long, and probably took forever to read, I know it took me forever to write, but I think it was worth it. With 150 trades, Belichick has certainly had his share of bad trades, but he’s also had more than a few great trades. I’m sure you think I chose a few wrong, so put your picks in the comment section below!

Pat is a host of The Patriot Nation Podcast

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