Trades are a regular occurrence in the NFL, but two division rivals getting together to make a move does not happen particularly often for obvious reasons. That is exactly why a trade like the one sending wide receiver DeVante Parker from the Miami Dolphins to the New England Patriots this week is raising eyebrows.
Miami decided to send Parker and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick to its AFC East rivals for a 2023 third-round selection. Time will tell who emerges as the winner of that move, but it is somewhat unfamiliar territory for both organizations. Since the start of the 2000 league year — i.e. the start of the of Bill Belichick era in New England — the Patriots and Dolphins have only made a combined 14 in-division trades.
Nine of those were made by the Belichick-led Patriots. Let’s take a look at them.
2002: QB Drew Bledsoe for 2003 1st-round pick. With Tom Brady emerging as the Patriots’ undisputed starting quarterback in 2001, the team moved on from long-time QB1 Drew Bledsoe by sending him to Buffalo for a 2003 first-round selection. That pick was eventually used to move up in the draft and select defensive lineman Ty Warren — a cornerstone of the Patriots’ defensive line between 2003 and 2009.
2019: 2020 6th-round pick for OL Russell Bodine. The second trade involving the Patriots and Bills was a rather nondescript affair. While New England released Russell Bodine just one week after acquiring him, Buffalo spent the sixth-rounder it received on a wide receiver, Isaiah Hodgins, who has played one game in two seasons.
2003: 2003 3rd-round pick for 2004 2nd-round pick. Bill Belichick’s first trade with the Dolphins saw him turn a third-round selection into a future second-rounder. That pick was then subsequently traded to Cincinnati for running back Corey Dillon, who played an important role on New England’s 2004 Super Bowl squad.
2007: 2007 2nd-round pick, 2007 7th-round pick for WR Wes Welker. The Patriots invested two draft picks in 2007 to acquire an undersized slot receiver who has done some damage against their defense in the past. That receiver would turn into one of the most productive pass catchers of his era, making this move a clear win for New England: Wes Welker appeared in 102 games for the team over a six-year span and caught 741 passes for 8,145 yards and 41 touchdowns.
2016: 2016 6th-round pick, 2016 6th-round pick, 2016 7th-round pick for 2016 5th-round pick. The fifth-round pick acquired as part of this transaction was later repurposed, eventually turning into two players as part of another package deal. The first, wide receiver Devin Lucien, never appeared in the NFL game; the other is still with the team: defensive lineman Deatrich Wise Jr., drafted in the fourth round in 2017.
2020: 2022 6th-round pick for WR Isaiah Ford. File this one under “you can’t win them all.” The Patriots brought Isaiah Ford in ahead of the 2020 trade deadline to bolster a disappointing receiving corps. He never appeared in a game for his new team and was released a month later, setting the stage for him to return to Miami.
2021: 2023 3rd-round pick for WR DeVante Parker, 2022 5th-round pick. The jury is still out on this trade, with the move becoming official just this week. On paper, however, it has plenty of potential given that Parker is a starter-level wide receiver under contract for two more years on a reasonable deal — all for the net cost of a fourth-round selection.
2019: WR Demaryius Thomas for 2021 6th-round pick. Early on in 2019, New England had an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position, which led to the team sending Demaryius Thomas to New York for a sixth-round pick two years later. That sixth-rounder was eventually included in the second Patriots-Jets trade.
2020: 2020 4th-round pick, 2020 4th-round pick, 2021 6th-round pick for 2020 3rd-round pick. The Patriots used a pair of fourth-round selections and the 2021 pick acquired as part of the Demaryius Thomas trade to move up the board in 2020 and pick tight end Dalton Keene in Round 3. Keene has not had much of an impact in his two seasons in New England.
As can be seen, not every trade necessarily worked out in New England’s favor. However, they never clearly came out on the wrong end of such a move: at worst, they and their trade partners both failed to turn acquired assets into valuable pieces of their respective teams.
Meanwhile, the Patriots were able to find some key contributors either directly via those moves or because of follow-up trades. Wes Welker, Corey Dillon, Ty Warren and Deatrich Wise Jr. are the most notable names to end up in New England as part of this process, making the in-division trade history under Bill Belichick a short but successful one.