The Patriots sent a fourth-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for cornerback Aqib Talib in a deal that has worked out well for New England.
This year's NFL trading deadline is at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and several analysts have suggested some more deadline trades for the Patriots.
Let's look at three of those proposed transactions and see if they make sense for New England, grading the probability of each on a scale of 0, meaning there is no chance the Patriots would make that trade, to 10, meaning the Patriots would definitely make that trade. (Please note: I am not considering the likelihood the partners would actually be willing to trade the players in question.)
Update (Friday, 10/25, 11 a.m. ET): Since writing this article, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com has tweeted a possible trade. See below.
ESPN.com: Jacksonville Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew
ESPN.com's Greg Garber wrote that it wouldn't be a surprise if the Patriots pull the trigger on acquiring Maurice Jones-Drew from the Jaguars for a 2014 sixth-round pick:
This one actually makes too much sense. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick loves old running backs.
While that might have been true at one point, it's quite likely that the 2010 season disabused Belichick of that notion. The Patriots had three aging running backs that season in Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk. PatsCap.com noted that they collectively accounted for over $6 million in cap room. Unfortunately, they combined to give the Patriots just 71 carries for 256 yards.
Jones-Drew would be a bit of a risk, as the Patriots would owe him over $2.5 million. He is coming off of an injury-plagued 2012 season and has not rebounded to his previous form, averaging just 3.1 yards per carry. Of course, the Jaguars' offensive woes might explain part of this, but it's certainly worrisome. Also, Jones-Drew's talents are similar to those of the injured Shane Vereen, who could return as soon as Week 11.
Two facts are in favor of this trade, though. First, the Patriots have had success in plugging in running backs quickly. Danny Woodhead was integrated into the Patriots offense very quickly back in 2010. The second factor is that Patriots running back Leon Washington has contributed essentially nothing, so this move might actually make sense.
Likelihood of trade: 4
Bleacher Report: Cleveland Browns WR Josh Gordon
I think they could offer a second-round pick in this year’s draft and a young receiver such as Aaron Dobson to acquire Gordon.
This trade is a non-starter. According to PatsCap.com, the Patriots would lose $855.000 in cap room if they traded Dobson. Even with his struggles, Dobson has been in the New England system for several months. There are no guarantees how Gordon would fare in the Patriots offense.
I've previously detailed why I don't think this trade should happen. The one thing that helps is that Gordon would have multiple years left on his contract. That also has the negative aspect of driving up Gordon's price. But the trade would also have to come with significant protections for the team since Gordon faces a year's suspension, according to Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot, if he violates the NFL's substance abuse policies again.
If the Browns were willing to insert a clause whereby they would have to give back a significant pick if Gordon fails to toe the line, then this trade just might happen. Without that, though, the Patriots will likely say no dice.
Likelihood of trade: 2
Sports Illustrated: Minnesota Vikings DE Jared Allen
Sports Illustrated's Chris Burke and Doug Farrar call this a "trade that should happen."
Chris Burke suggests that the Patriots should be willing to part with a 2014 second-round pick and a 2015 third-round pick, while Doug Farrar argues that if the Vikings were willing to settle for a 2014 third-round pick and a 2015 fifth-round pick, talks might get somewhere.
In reality, this trade is likely dead in the water right now.
The main reason that Burke cites for making the trade is that Allen is likely to test free agency next offseason, so the Vikings should get whatever they can for him now.
Which of these trades, if any, would make the most sense?
The problem is that, while it might give the Patriots a better pass rush for the rest of the season, it would hurt the franchise in the long run. First off, the Pats would lose future draft picks in a deal. Secondly, it doesn't really solve the Patriots' biggest problem on defense—the loss of defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Allen's salary is also prohibitively high, so the Patriots would still owe Allen over $7.5 million for just nine weeks (eight games). More importantly, every dollar they would pay to Allen would be a dollar that can't be used in an attempt to retain Talib, who is also a free agent next offseason.
Likelihood of trade: 0
ESPN.com: New York Giants DT Linval Joseph
ESPN.com's Adam Schefter proposes that the Patriots could acquire Giants defensive tackle Linval Joseph for a 2014 third-round pick.
Of all the trades here, this one makes the most sense from the Patriots' point of view: they get an experienced though still relatively young defensive tackle who can fortify the middle of the line. Better still, they get him at a bargain-basement price of $630,000, according to spotrac.com (prorated over the final weeks of the season, it's only about $330,000).
The only caveat here is the cost. I can't see the Patriots giving up a third-round pick for a nine-week rental. The only way this trade could happen is if New England can then extend him for at least two or three years at relatively modest money (on the order of $2 million a year), or for lower compensation (e.g., a fifth- or sixth-round pick).
Likelihood of trade: 5