Just like last year, the New England Patriots are heading toward the NFL trade deadline with a 4-4 record. However, that does not mean they will take the same approach as last season when they ended up not making any moves.
After all, there are several players on the current roster who are seen as realistic candidates to be dealt. One thing all of them have in common is that they have seemingly slipped down the depth chart at their respective positions. Three of the four are also in the final year of their contracts — making for an intriguing mix with the trade window closing soon.
All four of them have previously been rumored to have drawn interest, something that is also true for three players not mentioned here: wide receivers Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker, as well as safety Jabrill Peppers. It seems unlikely the Patriots will trade any of the three given their recent performance and/or importance to the team’s operation.
With that said, let’s take a look at four players who are most likely to get dealt ahead of 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
WR Nelson Agholor
What is his background? Agholor arrived in New England on a two-year contract during the team’s free agency shopping spree last offseason. He had a quiet first season with the team but showed some progress over the summer.
Agholor entered the season as WR3 alongside Jakobi Meyers and DeVante Parker, and did have some solid production early on. He is currently ranked third on the team in catches (15) and yards (227), while also being tied for second in touchdown receptions (1). However, Agholor has also fumbled twice and let a pass go through his hands for an interception.
Why would they trade him? Even after DeVante Parker went down with an injury on the first offensive snap against the New York Jets, Agholor was buried on the Patriots’ depth chart; he ended the game as WR4 in terms of snaps played — well below the role his $14.9 million salary cap hit this season would suggest. Given his limited recent opportunities, plus the emergence of rookie Tyquan Thornton, a trade would make sense.
Additionally, moving Agholor would also create some considerable cap savings for the Patriots. The team would shed its remaining salary and per-game roster bonus, resulting in savings of $5.47 million.
What would the return look like? Given his contract, finding a trade partner for Agholor will not be easy. Accordingly, anything higher than a seventh-round selection would be a surprise — unless New England agrees to absorb some of his salary. In that case, a team might be willing to trade a sixth-round pick, or a sixth-rounder for Agholor and a seventh.
How likely is a trade? Medium. His cap number is an issue and the Patriots might value Agholor on the roster more than getting a low-level draft pick in return.
WR Kendrick Bourne
What is his background? Bourne joined the Patriots alongside Agholor last offseason, but he adapted quickly to his team’s new system. The former San Francisco 49ers wideout was one of New England’s most productive pass catchers, showing some encouraging chemistry with quarterback Mac Jones.
2022, however, has been a challenge so far. Bourne has apparently struggled with the post-Josh McDaniels offense, and had a week from hell in training camp: he was tossed from a joint practice with the Carolina Panthers for fighting and later did not play in the two teams’ preseason game after arriving late.
In the regular season, Bourne has so far caught 11 passes for 156 yards.
Why would they trade him? As is the case with Agholor, Bourne effectively has three wide receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. If the game against New York is an indication, Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, and Tyquan Thornton are the top three at the moment — leaving a player like Bourne with limited opportunities to get involved.
As a result, the Patriots might be looking to trade him while improving their salary cap position. According to Miguel Benzan, a move would result in gross savings of $3.09 million this year.
What would the return look like? The Patriots would likely get a solid return for Bourne given his contract situation and production in 2021. A team might be willing to part ways with a fifth-rounder to bring him in, or a fourth-rounder if the 27-year-old comes in a package deal with a sixth- or seventh-round pick.
How likely is a trade? Medium to low. Bourne’s contract is team-friendly and he has shown some strides recently, even though his numbers do not reflect it. If it is an either/or situation with him and Agholor, he is likely the player to be kept.
RB Damien Harris
What is his background? Harris joined the Patriots as a third-round selection in the 2019 draft, and after a de facto redshirt year took over as the team’s lead running back. He was New England’s most productive offensive skill position player in 2020 and 2021, gaining a combined 1,841 yards from scrimmage and scoring 17 touchdowns.
However, a hamstring injury allowed sophomore running back Rhamondre Stevenson to take over earlier this year. With Stevenson looking fantastic, Harris’ recent impact has been limited and he currently ranks second on the team in rushing attempts (71), rushing yards (302), and rushing touchdowns (3).
Why would they trade him? Not only does it seem Harris is now the Patriots’ RB2 behind Stevenson, he also is in the final year of his rookie deal. New England moving him now instead of having him play out his contract might increase the return of losing him, while also creating some cap savings. The team would increase its current cap space by $563,111 in case a move is made.
What would the return look like? The running back position continues to be devalued, meaning that Harris — a player capable of serving as a productive lead back — will likely not yield a significant return. His contract situation is a positive, but he is signed only for 10 more weeks plus the playoffs. Accordingly, anything higher than a fifth-round pick would be a pleasant surprise.
How likely is a trade? Low. Harris is a good player who happens to have recently been surpassed by another good player. That said, the Patriots have limited depth behind him and Stevenson: Ty Montgomery is still on injured reserve, while rookies Pierre Strong Jr. and Kevin Harris do not yet appear to be ready to take the next step in their development.
Considering all of that, a trade seems unlikely even though some other circumstances — contract and Stevenson’s emergence — appear to point in that direction.
OT Isaiah Wynn
What is his background? Wynn joined the Patriots as a first-round draft pick in 2018, but he had to spend his rookie season on the sidelines after hurting his Achilles tendon in preseason. He returned the following season and took over as New England’s left tackle — a role he held for three seasons before being moved to the right side this year.
Since then, Wynn has struggled. While he downplayed the move when talking to the media, his mental errors have skyrocketed and he has had his fair share of issues as a pass protector. This prompted the Patriots to rotate Marcus Cannon in and out of the lineup over the last few weeks, with Cannon starting in place of Wynn against the Jets on Sunday.
Why would they trade him? Wynn is set to enter unrestricted free agency next year and his longer-term future with the organization is very much in question. Accordingly, trading him now would bring give the team some return on their investment while also creating short-term cap relief; a move would result in gross savings of $5.79 million.
The Patriots also have other options on their roster that might be able to fill the right tackle spot. Marcus Cannon, as noted above, started over Wynn on Sunday. The team also just got Yodny Cajuste back from injured reserve.
What would the return look like? On the one hand, Wynn has had his issues this season, carries a notable cap hit, and will be a free agent in March. On the other, however, he has some very promising tape while playing on the left side of the line and is a proven starter at a premium position.
A team might therefore be willing to part ways with a mid-round pick, especially if it views him as a player worth committing to beyond the last few months of his current contract. A fourth-round pick would not be an unrealistic return.
How likely is a trade? Medium. The trade market is all about supply and demand, and there is demand for starter-level offensive tackles. If the Patriots feel that Marcus Cannon, Yodny Cajuste, or a tackle to be acquired via trade could adequately fill Wynn’s spot in the lineup, a trade would not be a surprise.