Today is the 2023 NFL Trade Deadline. The New England Patriots have been active in the past around the deadline but they enter today in a very unfamiliar spot. At 2-6 on the season, it is the first time since 2000 that they have two or fewer wins through eight games. As a result, New England is far more likely to be selling at the trade deadline. But since Bill Belichick likes to zig when others expect him to zag, there is one potential trade included here where the Patriots get back some help.
Different players who might be traded to or from Foxboro have been discussed at length on PFN. However, the situation for the 2023 New England Patriots is now is clearer focus. They will not be contenders; therefore they will not be pushing in assets to buy. There is also the issue of keeping a team on the field that will continue to be able to compete. Trading Trent Brown or Mike Onwenu might be tempting, but it could also get Mac Jones’ head taken off. Sending a message to players that there is no effort to try and be competitive is not a good look. The bulk of this team is likely back in 2024, so getting into good habits and having a good foundation should begin now.
Kendrick Bourne was another player that was discussed as a possible trade chip. But Bourne tore his ACL on Sunday and therefore will not be moved.
Here are four trades the New England Patriots actually might make today:
1. Josh Uche to the Jacksonville Jaguars
New England trades LB Josh Uche and a 2024 fourth round pick to Jacksonville for a 2024 second round pick
Uche has been injured the past two weeks, but he was questionable this past week and should be back soon. He is an unrestricted free agent after the season and it seems unlikely the Patriots will be willing to pay what he can get on the open market. A year ago Uche registered 11.5 sacks. He puts pressure on opposing quarterbacks, which all contending teams are looking for. The move is made easier by the emergence of both Anfernee Jennings and Jahlani Tavai in New England. Jennings is also set to hit free agency, but would be easier to retain. New England would like a second round pick in return, but to get that they would have to part with a fourth round pick of their own.
2. Ezekiel Elliott to the Cleveland Browns
New England trades RB Ezekiel Elliott to Cleveland for a 2024 fifth round pick
The running backs in Cleveland continue to fall. Nick Chubb is out for the season, Jerome Ford has been banged up. Kareem Hunt is now publicly criticizing the coaching staff. Bringing in a veteran like Elliott could be a good match for the Browns. At 4-3 there are still playoff hopes in Cleveland despite the loss of their Pro Bowl rusher.
Ezekiel Elliott has shown a good burst with the Patriots and still has some explosiveness left. He is tough and runs hard. New England has not used him often as a receiving back, though he appears capable of doing so. If not the Browns, there are certainly others who would be interested in adding a healthy and productive veteran running back. An insurance policy for a team with Super Bowl aspirations seems worth while. It would also give the Patriots a chance to audition practice squad players Kevin Harris and Patrick Taylor.
3. Kyle Dugger and JuJu Smith-Schuster to the Pittsburgh Steelers
New England trades DB Kyle Dugger and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster to Pittsburgh for a 2024 fourth round pick
No Patriots fan would be happy about saying goodbye to Kyle Dugger, especially after Sunday’s performance against the Miami Dolphins. But if the Pittsburgh Steelers were willing to take the contract of JuJu Smith-Schuster off their hands, it could be more palatable. Dugger is an unrestricted free agent after this season, so a lot comes down to whether or not New England sees him on their roster in 2024 and beyond.
But the loss of Dugger would also put a ton of pressure on the Patriots defense. Unlike with trade of Uche, there is nobody to take over Dugger’s role in the secondary if he departs. Dugger and Jabrill Peppers are on the field for nearly the entire game with the Patriots defense and are largely counted on to ease the communication (i.e. Devin McCourty’s old role). The Patriots would need to turn to Adrian Phillips, Jalen Mills and Myles Bryant to get more time at safety if Dugger departs. The Steelers would have help at safety if Minkah Fitzpatrick is gone long, and the hope that Smith-Schuster can regain some of his swagger in the Steel City. The Patriots regain a fourth round pick after shipping their’s out to Jacksonville.
4. Jerry Jeudy to the New England Patriots
Denver trades WR Jerry Jeudy to New England for WR Tyquan Thornton and a 2024 fourth round pick (via Pittsburgh)
There have been reports that the Broncos have been looking for a second round pick for Jeudy. They are not going to get it. But they could get a former second round pick in Tyquan Thornton. The additional draft pick gives Denver both a player with potential upside and a future pick for a guy that is not working out for them as Sean Payton had hoped. Perhaps a fresh start in New England with a familiar scheme would benefit both Jeudy and Mac Jones. It would also give New England Patriots fans something to get excited about as new toys are always fun. Run out the season with Jerry Jeudy, Demario Douglas, Kayshon Boutte, Jalen Reagor and DeVante Parker, then reassess after the year.