While most of the NFL was relatively quiet ahead of the league’s trade deadline, the New England Patriots were quite active. Not only did they send rookie tight end Devin Asiasi to their injured reserve list, they also brought two players aboard from the outside.
Shortly before the trade deadline, New England sent a conditional sixth-round selection to the Miami Dolphins to bring wide receiver Isaiah Ford in. Later, the team also was awarded former Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Isaiah Mack after putting a waiver claim on him. While neither will be able to join the team just yet due to the league’s Coronavirus protocols, adding them does improve the Patriots’ depth at the two positions.
Bill Belichick also said the same thing when addressing reporters during a media conference call on Wednesday morning.
“We felt like both players could add depth at two positions we feel like we could use the depth at,” the Patriots’ head coach said. “One claim, one trade. We’ll see. We won’t really be able to do anything with these players for another week, so we’ll see what happens then.”
Bolstering the depth at wide receiver and defensive tackle makes sense for New England given how the team’s roster recently developed.
At receiver, the Patriots recently lost Julian Edelman to injured reserve — he will be out at least three weeks after undergoing knee surgery — and also were without N’Keal Harry last Sunday because of a concussion. As a result, they headed into their game against the Buffalo Bills with starter Damiere Byrd being joined in the lineup by second-year men Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski.
Adding Ford does not only bring another player to the equation regardless of Edelman’s and Harry’s respective injury statuses, it also helps improve a slot position that neither Meyers nor Olszewski are fully capable of based on their skillsets. In this sense, Ford will likely take over Julian Edelman’s old role for however long the veteran will be out.
The defensive tackle position, meanwhile, has plenty of bodies but is a question behind a top-three consisting of Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler and Byron Cowart. Nick Thurman and Carl Davis have either been inconsistent or not seeing the field, while Guy left last Sunday’s game because of a shoulder injury. Add the fact that Beau Allen will not return and you can see why the Patriots felt like they needed to address the interior D-line.
“He’s had playing time, so we’ve been able to see him play competitively in games. But all the information is relevant,” said Belichick about Mack. “It’s really a question of depth and where do you get it, and he was available. He was released. We still won’t be able to have him for a week, but at this point, he’s a player that has some experience. He’s young and has some things that we’d like to work with. We’ll see how it goes when we’re able to get him, which won’t be until next week.”
While the Patriots know Mack from having seen him play up close during the 2019 preseason — he played 34 of a possible 68 defensive snaps and registered a sack — their intel on Isaiah Ford might have come in different forms: the team has a good relationship with Miami head coach Brian Flores, while running back Brandon Bolden spent time with Ford during the 2018 season.
For Belichick, however, all pieces of information are important.
“We have various ways of trying to do our research on all players,” he said on Wednesday. “That really would depend on the players and the contacts, and so forth. Whatever opportunities we have to research and gain information on players, that’s what we do. We keep those in our personal records and use them if they’re opponents or if a player’s available.”
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