The New England Patriots have made a habit out of turning other teams' dispensable pieces into valuable role players over the years, and they added to their list of low-risk moves Wednesday by nabbing wide receiver Keshawn Martin from the Houston Texans.
The Houston Chronicle's John McClain first reported the deal, and Mark Berman of Fox 26 in Houston added the Texans sent a sixth-round pick, along with Martin to New England, in return for the Patriots' fifth-round pick.
For the Patriots, acquiring Martin appears to be a matter of numbers and systemic similarities. As ESPN.com's Mike Reiss noted, New England had just three wide receivers—Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Aaron Dobson—on its active roster at the time of the deal.
With wideout Brandon LaFell on the physically unable to perform list and sidelined for at least the first six weeks of the season, the Patriots needed to make a move to shore up their depth for the time being.
The Houston Chronicle's Stephanie Stradley pointed out Martin was a sensible addition for the Patriots given the commonalities that exist between the offenses run by Bill O'Brien and Bill Belichick:
The Texans elevated receiver and kick returner Chandler Worthy from their practice squad in a corresponding move, per McClain.
The former fourth-round pick was most productive during the 2013 season, when he returned 39 punts for 345 yards and a touchdown while averaging a career-best 26.3 yards per kickoff return on 36 attempts.
Martin also caught a career-high 23 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns during the 2013 campaign.
However, he entered training camp on the roster bubble with rising star DeAndre Hopkins and veterans such as Cecil Shorts and Nate Washington firmly ahead of him on the depth chart. The addition of rookie Jaelen Strong didn't help his case either.
With his roster spot in jeopardy, Martin explained how separating himself on special teams could cement his status on the 53-man roster.
"Return-wise, I just want to go out there and make big plays," Martin said on July 31, according to ESPN.com's Tania Ganguli. "I want, every chance I get to try to take it back to the house. Or just give the team good field position. Mainly that's what I'm really focused on. Catching the ball, it just comes natural, but I just want to go out there and make smart decisions."
But now that the Texans have decided to part ways with the 25-year-old, he'll have to impress the Patriots quickly in order to prove he belongs. According to Spotrac, Martin is in the final year of his rookie deal and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next spring.
Owed just over $621,000 through the remainder of the season, Martin needs to flash explosive speed and quality route running that make him more than a stopgap solution for a team in need of depth on the outside.