clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Patriots might see trade opportunities in declined fifth-year options

A total of 14 former first-round draft picks might be available for New England to pursue.

Cleveland Browns v New York Jets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

The NFL window to exercise the fifth-year contract options for 2020 first-round draft picks closed last week. The New England Patriots did not have a decision to make — they traded out of Round 1 that year — but will likely still keep close tabs on who was and wasn’t offered the opportunity to stick around for a fifth year.

The Patriots, after all, are anything if not opportunistic: if they see a chance to bolster their team, they will not hesitate to do so. In this case, it would mean exploring trades with players who did not see their fifth-year options exercised.

Disregarding cornerback Jeffrey Okudah, who became ineligible after reworking his contract after a trade from Detroit to Atlanta, there are 14 theoretical candidates. Let’s take a brief look at them to find out who would make sense as a possible target for New England.

DE Chase Young (Washington Commanders): The highest-profile player on this list, Young is an elite talent who has been dealing with his fair share of injury issues over the last two years. If healthy, he would be an impressive addition to the Patriots’ front but he does not appear to be a target: the team just drafted Keion White in the second round, and he would likely cost too much for a potential one-year rental.

LB Isaiah Simmons (Arizona Cardinals): Simmons is an intriguing player because he fits the versatile type the Patriots like in their linebacker/safety hybrids. He would make sense from that perspective, even with the team selecting a similar player in the third round of the draft just last month (Marte Mapu). After all, New England’s off-ball linebacker personnel is far from set in stone outside of Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai and Mapu.

CB C.J. Henderson (Carolina Panthers): The ninth overall selection in 2020, Henderson has failed to live up to his draft status in both Jacksonville and Carolina. He might have some interesting tools, but his lack of success at the pro level plus the Patriots just drafting Christian Gonzalez 17th overall makes this a “no.”

OT Mekhi Becton (New York Jets): Here is where things get interesting. Becton played some impressive football as a rookie, but injuries have limited him to only one game and 48 snaps over the last two seasons. The Jets are holding out hope he can bounce back, but there is some skepticism about his future with the organization. The Patriots swooping in would be unusual, but there are arguments on both sides why a trade would make sense.

DT Javon Kinlaw (San Francisco 49ers): The Patriots may not have a big need along their interior defensive line, but the 6-foot-5, 319-pounder would make for an intriguing addition nonetheless: Kinlaw’s talent cannot be denied, after all, even though his injury history is a concern. Still, if the price is right he too appears to be a player worth pursuing.

OT Austin Jackson (Miami Dolphins): Jackson has never shown the high ceiling of Mekhi Becton, and his team might therefore be more willing to move him. His struggles have been a problem, but he might benefit from a change of scenery — one that would likely come at a relatively low price.

LB K’Lavon Chaisson (Jacksonville Jaguars): Chaisson has plenty of talent, but in three years as a Jaguar has never been able to put it all together and develop into a consistent outside linebacker. Like Austin Jackson above, he too would likely benefit from a change of scenery. New England is deep at the edge, but a late-round pick in exchange for a high-upside former first-rounder looks like a risk the team would be willing to take.

WR Jalen Reagor (Minnesota Vikings): The Patriots’ wide receiver position was bolstered through the draft via a pair of Day 3 picks, and it appears the team is pleased with what it currently has. The disappointing Reagor, who failed to move the needle in both Philadelphia and Minnesota, would therefore likely not be a target.

LB Kenneth Murray (Los Angeles Chargers): Selected with the Patriots’ original first-round pick, Murray has had a quiet three seasons in Los Angeles. Would he be an upgrade over New England’s current off-the-ball linebacker depth? Potentially, but projection alone would not make him a trade target.

OL Cesar Ruiz (New Orleans Saints): Ruiz has been OK in three seasons with the Saints, but no world-beater either. But even if he had been, New England likely would not be interested given its current depth along the interior O-line.

LB Jordyn Brooks (Seattle Seahawks): The Seahawks declining Brooks’ fifth-year option came as a surprise despite him coming off a torn ACL. After all, it appears the team is quite high on him — something justified given his play the last three years. It therefore seems pretty unlikely he would realistically be available via trade, but if he were New England might be a candidate to at least explore a move.

LB Patrick Queen (Baltimore Ravens): Queen has been solid for the Ravens, but apparently not solid enough to have the option picked up. He is your prototypical modern-day linebacker, but his asking price if made available would likely be too high for New England’s liking.

CB Noah Igbinoghene (Miami Dolphins): Igbinoghene’s future in Miami is very much in doubt, and the Dolphins would likely welcome the opportunity to get something for the 23-year-old. That something will not be coming from the Patriots.

RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire (Kansas City Chiefs): The final pick of the first round in 2020, Edwards-Helaire was not a massive whiff for the Chiefs but a disappointing selection nonetheless. He has some skill as a runner and receiver, which might make him a potential target — if the price is low enough.

As can be seen, there are some players on this list who might be worth at least exploring as options. At the moment, nothing appears to be imminent but the Patriots have never shied away from making surprising moves and investing in players who have talent but for one reason or another have not worked out.

At the very least, as they always do, they will keep their eyes open.