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#PostPulpit Mailbag: How busy will New England be during the trade deadline?

Related: Patriots quarterback Mac Jones continues to show downside of vertical passing attack

NFL: OCT 09 Lions at Patriots Photo by M. Anthony Nesmith/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After an embarrassing Monday night defeat to the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots turn the page to the red-hot New York Jets. They will do so with Mac Jones as their starting quarterback.

Also on the horizon is the NFL trade deadline, which is next Tuesday, Nov. 1. With lots of interest on that, let’s start there and then empty out the rest of the #PostPulpit mailbag with some Bears and quarterback talk.

@PatsEmpire Think any possible moves before the deadline?

@Skywal1Thaddeus Which player should New England trade for before the deadline?

With just under $2 million in salary cap space, a splashy move is likely out of the equation for New England unless they unload one of their larger contracts in Nelson Agholor or Isaiah Wynn (more on that later).

Looking at the roster, shoring up the run defense seems like priority No. 1 currently. I still believe the team would benefit from adding another big body up front on the defensive line. With the Carolina Panthers in the midst of a rebuild, perhaps Matt Ioannidis could be had for a late round draft pick.

Another way the Patriots could improve the trenches is adding another quality EDGE opposite of Matthew Judon. While a player like Bradley Chubb may be out of the equation due to the future assets needed to acquire him, a smaller move for an impact player could be worked out. Some other names that have been floated in trade rumors are Dallas’ Tarell Basham, Houston’s Jerry Hughes, and New Orleans’ Marcus Davenport.

And while we talked about New England finding roles for their linebackers in last week’s mailbag, Kamu Grugier-Hill, who was recently released by the Texans, could be a worthy addition.

@StevesWeirdFace KB or Nelly who gets traded away

There seems to be some serious interest in both Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne across the league. I’d be inclined to deal one and keep the other for depth. Due to Agholor’s larger contract and his role being declined with Tyquan Thornton’s return, he’d likely be the one out.

As for Bourne, he still is one of their better receivers in terms of skillset and on a team-friendly deal. I’d have to be blown away in order to move on from him.

@FJB_FOF What is a realistic return for the following: Agholor Bourne Wynn

What does getting blown away for Bourne look like? Probably a second-round pick would get me to pick up the phone and seriously consider. I’d say Agholor would return either a fourth or fifth rounder while Wynn probably falls into the fifth-round category.

@FindACure5034 Do you think a Jakobi Meyers extension will happen?

The case for Jakobi Meyers is interesting. Before the season, my prediction is that they would let him walk. He’s been extremely consistent and reliable, but he was always near the bottom of the league in terms of yards after catch.

This year, however, Meyers’ usage has been significantly different and he looks faster getting off the line of scrimmage. The biggest change has been the team using him as more of a downfield receiver. He currently ranks 11th in the league among qualified receivers in yards per route run, up nearly a full yard since last season.

So, New England will have a decision to make this offseason as Meyers should fetch over $10 million AAV on the open market. Whether they like him that much or believe they can continue to churn out productive slot receivers is the question. Holding on to Kendrick Bourne could factor into the equation as a potential replacement in the slot.

@ForbesSumner What’s up with mobile QBs killing NE defense? Is it personnel, or scheme?Both? It’s not a new issue so does it point to BB being out of step with league trends? It honestly looks easy for some star QBs of this generation to walk all over the once vaunted BB defense.

The Patriots have now got burned on the ground in two games against Lamar Jackson and Justin Fields. To me, the problem appears to their personnel and eye discipline. We talked about the need for perhaps another body along the defensive front, but the second-level defenders are often out of position.

In the play above, both Ja’Whaun Bentley and Kyle Dugger read and react to the jet motion. The false steps Bentley takes to his left put him out of position. Instead of meeting the puller in the hole, he is late and easy to block at the point of attack. Fields then has an easy hole to hit at full speed.

Plays similar to the one above (primarily QB runs with pullers) that attack the empty C-gap are the ones mainly hurting the Patriots in this department. While they don't have to face runners like Lamar or Fields from here on out, teams will certainly take notice, especially a division rival up north with a physical quarterback.

@TomeTrosanina Do you think Cajuste can outplay Cannon if/when he’s able to come back?

It looks like Cajuste will be back as he was at practice on Wednesday, which opened his 21-day activation window. If Cajuste can factor into the right tackle mix and perhaps unseat Wynn and Cannon, that would be a notable development.

For as shaky as Wynn has been to start the season — a cause we believe is stemming from the switch to right tackle — Marcus Cannon has not been perfect either. While he looks strong in the run game, he struggles in pass protection at times. He was beat inside a number of times against Chicago, most notably on Mac Jones’ interception. The Patriots need better play at that spot going forward, and it could quickly become an open competition among the three.

@ThomCincotta How much was Trent Brown responsible for Mac Jones’ shaky 3 drives vs the Bears on Sunday?

On the opposite side is Trent Brown, who had one of his rougher games Monday night lining up mostly against Robert Quinn. Brown’s play did not affect Mac in the moment — like Cannon getting beat on the interception — but his penalties certainly hurt. Three of Brown’s four penalties came with Mac in the game, all three coming on their two three-and-outs. With so many questions at the right tackle spot, the Patriots need the best version of Trent Brown on the left side.

@BostonEvan11 Andrews replacement?

The last question mark along the offense line is replacing David Andrews, who likely will miss Sunday’s game with a concussion. The easy replacement seems to be James Ferentz, but I wouldn't rule out rookie Chasen Hines potentially filling in as well.

@jd_hazel How much of a leash is Mac Jones on after the MNF debacle??

While Bill Belichick named Mac Jones the starter for Sunday against the Jets, it was notable that he would not make future commitments. It was a different approach than he took back in 2020 when he constantly reminded everyone that Cam Newton was their starting quarterback. So, it appears Jones does have a leash.

Getting Jones right is the biggest task for the New England coaching staff right now. While they have become a more vertical passing team this season, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate. While much of the attention is on Zappe getting more under center and play-action looks, the route combos while each quarterback are on the field are striking.

With Zappe, New England is allowing him to hit some easy completions with picks, slants, and stick concepts. The following plays are examples of such. Zappe’s first throw of the game is an easy hit to Jonnu Smith on a stick concept, which is followed by a pitch and catch to Rhamondre Stevenson, who is free off a pick, two plays later. In the fourth quarter, Zappe has another quick-hitter to Parker running a slant.

Zappe’s downfield shots then come off play-action, such as his touchdown to Jakobi Meyers or jump ball to DeVante Parker.

As with Jones, the vertical passing attack is on full display. Perhaps Jones’ best play Monday night was when he was given a concept like Zappe was getting. With Jonnu running a stick route and Henry running a dig behind it, Jones maneuvers the defender out of Henry’s way and puts the ball on him for a completion.

If the Patriots want to air it out more to create more explosive plays and ultimately compete with the better offenses in football, that's fine. But they need to find balance and let Jones hit the easy ones once in awhile as well.

Chris D. What’s wrong with Jake Bailey

It was another tough night on Monday for Jake Bailey, who inked a new four-year extension in the offseason. According to PFF, Bailey currently ranks 31st in yards per punt, 32nd in net punting average, and 32nd in average hang time.

It has not been good and it’s tough to say why. The belief was last year his down performance was caused by an injury, but there’s no reason to believe he is dealing with an ailment at this time. He also seemed like his old self in the spring and summer, booming punts over the practice field. Hopefully he could work through whatever is causing the current struggles, but the Patriots are bringing in a handful of punters, including Jake Julien who was with the team in training camp, this week for workouts.

@auerbach_larry Is Bill washed?

No. But the way he handled the quarterback decision Monday night is one I bet he’d like back. I think he acknowledged that by the way the report came out about Mac’s practice reps on Wednesday and Bill naming the him the starter on Thursday.

@P1gully Looking at the 2021 Draft are you disappoint in it now. Stevenson is the only one that really looking like a player

I wouldn't go there yet. Christian Barmore is still a really good player that they missed Monday night. He’s doing more of the dirty work this season which is why he's not stuffing the stat sheet.

Besides those him and Stevenson, we’ll see what happens with Mac Jones. Joshuah Bledsoe had a really strong summer and could take on a larger role in the future when the safety room isn't as crowded, and I will always hold onto hope for Cameron McGrone. Ronnie Perkins and Tre Nixon are also still around in some capacity. Let’s not turn the page this early.

@_Mike_MC Why did the pats crowd ruin Mac Jones so early chanting for zappe?

It was an interesting choice in my opinion. But, they got their wish and saw how that went.

@Betancourt10Bos Think the grey pants are here to stay?

I’d hope. I believe they are a much better look than the blue-on-blue combo. But, after an effort like that while wearing them they may be thrown to the wolves. New England debuted an all-blue alternate jersey in 2002 and lost 28-10 while wearing them. They were never seen again.

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!