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#PostPulpit Mailbag: Previewing the Patriots’ potential trade deadline moves

Related: Should the Patriots be buyers or sellers at the NFL trade deadline?

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots are back in the win column and now look forward to a trip to the West Coast to face off against Justin Herbert and the high powered Los Angeles Chargers. While the Patriots will be focused on slowing down the Chargers this week, they also might start to look ahead to the November 2nd trade deadline.

With lots of intriguing events on the horizon, let’s hop into this weeks #PostPulpit mailbag.

@neteamen22 What signings do the Patriots regret after 7 games. A lot@of money spent and limited results

It’s tough to say they “regret” any move after just seven games. Kendrick Bourne, Matt Judon, and Hunter Henry have seemingly led the free agent class in production so far this year. Jonnu Smith seems to be turning a corner after finally being used properly last week against the Jets before leaving with a shoulder injury.

Nelson Agholor and Jalen Mills are the two players out of the larger contracts the team dished out in free agency that have not lived up to their contracts yet. However, Agholor’s skillset should lead to more production as the Patriots continue to open up their offense, while Mills has played the majority of this season out of position. Based off his past play and when he originally signed in New England, Mills projected best in the Patrick Chung-hybrid safety type role. Due to the injury and eventual trade of Stephon Gilmore however, he has been thrusted into an outside cornerback role.

Another player who hasn't lived up to expectations since signing this offseason is Kyle Van Noy. Van Noy is currently graded as the Patriots worst qualified linebacker on PFF, but it’s tough to say the Patriots ‘regret’ the move as he signed for just $6 million guaranteed for two seasons.

@patriotsfeeder What cbs can we look at around the league that might be available for us. And do we need to go out and drop another bag to get a no 1 guy or could we make it through with an extra [depth] body. But I don’t think this team can compete for titles without a stronger/deeper secondary

Cornerback should absolutely be an area the Patriots tinker with at the trade deadline — even after adding defensive back Brian Poole on Wednesday. After trading Stephon Gilmore and now losing Jon Jones for the year, the thin secondary is now even thinner. While Joejuan Williams played one of his best games in the NFL last week against the Jets and Myles Bryant continues to be a sturdy option in the slot, New England needs more depth in the secondary.

One name that immediately came to mind was Jason McCourty — but the veteran was placed on injured reserve Monday and could be in line for foot surgery. So looking elsewhere, Broncos’ cornerback Kyle Fuller could be of intrigue for New England. Fuller appeared to be the odd man out in the Denver secondary and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Sunday that cornerback could be dealt for the right price. Fuller has roughly $5 million remaining on his one-year, $9.5 million contract, so New England — which currently has just over $4 million in salary cap space, according to PatsCap — would have to clear cap space to acquire the 29-year old.

@617BostonTeams If N’Keal Harry isn’t in the Patriots plans and Andy Isabella isn’t in the Cardinals, is there any traction for a deal there? Local guys head home to the teams who were interested in them in the draft and the Pats finally add some speed?

Isabella was another name that Rapoport reported could be dealt, adding that “teams were calling Arizona to no avail about the speedster prior to the season” and that he “[expects] those calls to increase as the trade deadline draws closer.”

The N’Keal Harry for Andy Isabella swap has been a popular rumor amongst Patriots fans, but it’s one that just might not make sense for New England. To start, why would Arizona have much interest in Harry? With DeAndre Hopkins, A.J. Green, Christian Kirk, and Rondale Moore already rostered and thriving in Kliff Kinsbury’s offense, there is really no reason for them to acquire Harry.

As for New England, Isabella’s skillset is certainly intriguing, but he likely would not make any sort of impact this season. We’ve seen how long it takes for outside receivers to pick up this offense — specifically in season — and he would be buried behind Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor, and Kendrick Bourne on the depth chart.

Harry in any trade would carry a $785k salary while costing New England $1.96 million in ‘21 and $1.34 million in ‘22 in dead cap hits. Acquiring Isabella would come with a deadline salary of just over $508k, while he remains under contract for just over $1.1 million next season.

@MRyan_10 Who is the most realistic receiver that we could acquire at the deadline. AROB would fit perfect but obviously isn’t realistic

So, could there be a wide receiver that is too good to pass up for the Patriots? While you probably are hoping for an Allen Robinson, Odell Beckham Jr., or even a Brandin Cooks, the Patriots are not operating with unlimited salary cap space like they were in this past offseason. Cooks, who comes with just a $1.1 million deadline cap, could be one added from that group, but New England may not want to pony up any serious draft capital for an impact player at wide receiver.

If they do try to add a receiver at the deadline — which honestly should not be their priority as of now — it would likely be a receiver on their rookie contract, like an Isabella, or Denzel Mims, if the New York Jets are looking to part ways. But with the struggles we just outlined with adding a receiver mid-season, the Patriots could be best just rolling with what they have now.

In a dream scenario, New England could pry Brandon Aiyuk from Kyle Shanahan’s grasp. The electric and versatile second-year receiver has been put in the dog house this year after a strong rookie season. It’s unlikely San Francisco is ready to move on after they traded up to select him in the 2020 NFL Draft, but if they are, New England should certainly be involved. Aiyuk is a dynamic game-changer that would add a versatile threat to this offense.

@persononweb What’s a hypothetical trade deadline deal that makes sense?

Beyond receivers and cornerbacks, New England could also be in play for offense line depth at the trade deadline. While they seem to making progress with their starting unit, adding another tackle if the opportunity presented itself could be hard to ignore — especially with Trent Brown’s injury concerns and Isaiah Wynn’s struggles.

Looking at tackles that could be available, Philadelphia’s Andre Dillard is a name that comes to mind. The Eagles traded up to select Dillard in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, but their seventh round pick from 2018, Jordan Mailata, recently inked a four-year, $64 million extension to play left tackle. During Lane Johnson absence the past few weeks, Mailata moved to right tackle while Dillard slid back into the lineup to protect Jalen Hurts’ blindside. Dillard impressed while filling in, allowing zero pressures on 199 snaps, but with Johnson back in the mix, Philadelphia could look to sell high on their former first round pick.

With at least one-year remaining of team control, the Eagles will need a strong offer to consider moving him. If the Patriots view offensive tackle as a serious issue, they could make a move for Dillard, who also has been practicing at guard.

Also, it would not be a surprise to see the Patriots add another running back at some point. Rex Burkhead still seems to make the most sense — again due to his familiarity within the system and ability to pass block, but other players such as Marlon Mack provide intriguing options as well.

@CaliforniaSassy I’m going in a different direction. What are you dressing as for Halloween What are you handing out to trick-or-treaters?

No costume yet, but who has the best Patriots’ themed costume this year?

As for candy, I was yelled at for purchasing mixed bags, but hit all key candies (Reese’s, Kit Kat, Twix, Milkyway, Snickers, Hershey’s, Peanut and Regular M&M’s) in my opinion. Tell me how that does not get the job done? Either way, we seriously need to talk about how small these candies bars have gotten in recent years. Some criminal behavior. Happy Halloween to all!

That’s all for this week’s #PostPulpit mailbag. If you have questions you’d liked to be answered next week, submit them on Twitter using #PostPulpit! Make sure to be following @iambrianhines and @PatsPulpit as well!