The New England Patriots have been quite active on the trade market since the start of the NFL’s 2021 league year in March. The team acquired offensive linemen Trent Brown and Yasir Durant as well as cornerback Shaun Wade over the last seven months, and it also moved on from four of its players — Marcus Cannon, Ryan Izzo, Sony Michel and, most recently, Stephon Gilmore.
Bill Belichick and company have obviously never been afraid to make moves, and with the trade deadline set to come up next week one has to wonder whether or not New England will be active once again. Time will tell, but a majority of Patriots fans projects the team to make at least one trade between now and the deadline on November 2.
A total of 62 percent of Patriots fans participating in the latest SB Nation Reacts survey believe that the club will swing a trade over the coming days. Meanwhile, only 38 percent think that the team will stay put and head into the homestretch of the season with essentially the same players currently under contract.
Historically, New England has been quite active around deadline day. The team has made a minimum of one trade in four of the last five years — both as buyers and as sellers. They parted ways with Jamie Collins and Jimmy Garoppolo in 2016 and 2017, respectively, but also brought Kyle Van Noy (2016), Mohammed Sanu (2019) and Isaiah Ford (2020) in.
So, what will the Patriots do this year?
54 percent of fans participating in the Reacts survey think that the Patriots will be buyers. For comparison, a mere 18 percent think that they will be sellers, with 28 percent thinking that they will not have fallen into either category when the dust has settled.
There are arguments to be made in favor of both buying and selling. Take wide receiver N’Keal Harry as an example of an asset that could be moved off the team in the coming days.
A former first-round draft pick who has had a limited impact on the team, Harry’s agent publicly requested a trade earlier this year. Since then, the wide receiver has had an impressive training camp followed by a trip to short-term injured reserve. Following his reactivation, Harry has been quiet: appearing in four games, he has played 88 offensive snaps and caught just three passes for a combined 47 yards.
Harry’s long-term future with the Patriots is very much in question, and a move ahead of this year’s deadline would therefore make sense. That said, New England could also opt to hold onto the 23-year-old as depth alongside starter-level wideouts Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
Likewise, the team might be more interested in bringing outside talent in rather than parting ways with one of its players via trade. At 3-4, after all, the Patriots are still very much alive in the race for an eventual playoff berth — a perspective that might not change even in case the upcoming game against the Los Angeles Chargers ends up as a loss.
As a result, the Patriots might opt to bolster the weakest positions on their team. One in particular stands out: cornerback. With Stephon Gilmore now in Carolina and Jonathan Jones out for the rest of the year, New England might want to bring in additional talent to improve the depth at the position heading into the second half of the season.
At the end of the day, though, we all know one thing will happen: when asked about any moves or the lack thereof after the deadline, Bill Belichick will say that he made the decisions he thinks are best for the team.