In this week’s PFN Mid-Week Mailbag a reader asked if the outcome of the New England Patriots game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday would dictate their NFL Trade Deadline direction. It is unlikely New England becomes big buyers, even with a win in Miami. They would still be 3-5 and unlikely to transform into Super Bowl contender in 2023 regardless of who they’d obtain. What happens throughout the NFL this weekend, however, will certainly shape what New England does at the deadline.
A look at five players that could be traded, and another five the Patriots could trade for, depending on what happens this weekend.
POSSIBLE PATRIOTS PLAYERS TRADED
OT Trent Brown
Brown being the best offensive lineman for New England this season is not in dispute. In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, Trent Brown has been the best offensive tackle in the entire NFL this season. As a pending free agent, New England could try and maximize more than the comp pick if he walks. Contending teams in need of tackle help include the Rams, Steelers and Browns. And obviously if any injuries occur over the weekend that market could grow. However, it does feel risky to leave Mac Jones’ blindside in the hands of one of the New England Patriots backups for the rest of 2023. If the Patriots win Sunday, the chances of trading Brown would seem to lessen.
LB Josh Uche
After sitting last week with foot injury, Uche is questionable to play on Sunday. Any interested team would certainly like to know he’s healthy before giving up too much to obtain his services. Another 2024 UFA, Uche can rush the passer at an elite level, which every team could use. The Seahawks and Jaguars are among the contenders looking to bolster their pass rush. With the emergence of Anfernee Jennings (also a 2024 UFA) New England might be comfortable trading Uche, but only if they are also able to acquire a potential replacement (see below).
WR Kendrick Bourne
Bourne has been the Patriots most consistent wide receiver this season, despite his fumble last week. He is on pace to finish 2023 with 83 receptions, 899 yards and seven touchdowns. That would be a good WR2 and outstanding WR3 for a contending team looking to add a playmaker. Bourne is a lot more productive than a lot of the bigger names. out there (Broncos’ Jerry Jeudy for example). Like Trent Brown, the chances of trading him would diminish with a win over the Dolphins. At the very least, the asking price would go up.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 24, 2023
DB Kyle Dugger
On a week-to-week basis it is difficult to tell whether Dugger is a player that will fit into the longterm plans of the New England Patriots. It seems unlikely Dugger gets traded partially because there doesn’t seem anyone ready to take his snaps. Neither Jalen Mills nor Adrian Phillips have been given much of an opportunity on defense this season. Better consistency is needed to be a true cornerstone player though. Dugger had 15 tackles (11 solo) against the Cowboys, but the next week had just one solo tackle when they played the Saints. Last season he had three interceptions (two returned for touchdowns), a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. In 2023, he hasn’t been involved in any turnovers yet. However, the Titans just traded All-Pro safety Kevin Byard to the Eagles. If trading Dugger would result in a similar underwhelming package, or lower, holding onto him would make the most sense.
RB Ezekiel Elliott
Elliott has been running hard and making plays. He is also a veteran running back who will hit free agency after this season. If the Patriots were to lose to the Dolphins, getting something of value in return for Elliott could be the way to go. There are contending teams that could use a veteran like Elliott on their roster. This is especially true given the number of injuries at running back popping up lately. The Rams and Browns could both be in the market for a running back. Maybe he could be packaged in a deal with Trent Brown? It would open up a spot to give Kevin Harris or Patrick Taylor a look in New England.
POSSIBLE PLAYERS THE PATRIOTS TARGET
LB Preston Green, Packers
The teams looking to trade for Josh Uche may also be scouting Preston Green. Uche is a younger player, with more upside and is a better pure pass rusher. But Green can also rush in addition to be a dependable veteran. He is no guaranteed money after this season, so if things didn’t work out the Patriots could just cut tied with him after the season. Green has recorded sacks in each of Green Bay’s last two games, so he is peaking at the right time for his trade value. But there is a possibility the Patriots are willing to send out Uche and bring in Green for the remainder of the season, depending on the asking price. A comparison of Uche and Green over the past two seasons (2022-2023):
LB De’Vondre Campbell, Packers
Like his teammate Smith, the New England Patriots have familiarity with De’Vondre Campbell thanks to their join practices in preseason. The two teams also played against each other in 2022, so there is plenty of knowledge from Bill Belichick and the other decision-makers on both players. As opposed to the outside linebackers/rushers like Uche and Smith, Campbell could help the team’s overall depth. With the Falcons and Packers, he has played inside, outside, in the slot and on the line. He was a first team All-Pro in 2021 when he finished with 146 tackles. This season he has been hampered by injury and only appeared in three games. But Smith is the type of versatile playmaker Bill Belichick generally tends to value.
WR Marquise Brown, Cardinals
“Hollywood” has the speed that would help open the New England Patriots offensive attack. In 2021 he was outstanding in Baltimore, with 91 receptions for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. Since being traded to Arizona at the 2022 NFL Draft, he has been unable to reach those numbers. Like Kendrick Bourne, Brown is headed to free agency after the year. It could be the low-risk, high-reward pickup for the Patriots if the cost is low enough. But with the Patriots wide receiver room already feeling a bit crowded, this is unlikely unless the Patriots ship somebody out. Bringing Hollywood to New England will not happen if the Patriots lose this Sunday.
— NFL (@NFL) October 8, 2023
WR Jerry Jeudy, Broncos
While Marquise Brown is a more likely option if the Patriots win Sunday, a trade for Jeudy is more likely if they lose. If Kendrick Bourne is traded, New England could hook up with the Broncos to bring Jerry Jeudy to Foxboro. His stock only seems to be falling in Denver, so they may be happy to part ways for minimal return. Perhaps the Broncos would take a draft pick and one of the Patriots wide receivers (JuJu Smith-Schuster or DeVante Parker) back in a trade. Perhaps a fresh start would do everyone involved some good. Jeudy still has another year left on his contract, so this would not be a mere rental. It would also give him a chance to prove to Steve Smith and company that he’s not a JAG.
DL Leonard Williams, Giants
Leonard Williams is a fun possibility. He makes a lot of money, so the Giants are likely going to have to eat a portion of that to get a good return. But the idea of adding Williams to a group that includes Christian Barmore and Davon Godchaux is enticing. He has had as many as 11.5 sacks in a season (2020) and 83 tackles (2021). His numbers are down, but his mere presence is a benefit to others along the defensive front. This likely only happens if the Patriots feel they can compete for a playoff spot (which would need to include a win in Miami on Sunday). The hope would be (as with Hollywood Brown, that he enjoys his stay enough in New England to want to stay. Is this likely? No. But there is no question that Leonard Williams is the type of player that would excite Bill Belichick a great deal. In the past Belichick has compared Williams to Hall of Fame DL Richard Seymour. Safe to say he is a fan.