Patriots’ Trade Deadline: 4 Players to Target, 3 Players That Could be Dealt Away

The New England Patriots are at a crossroads coming into a pivotal Week 8 matchup against the Buffalo Bills. With their season essentially on the line this Sunday, the Patriots will soon have to decide which direction the team should move towards as the November 3rd trade deadline quickly approaches. Should New England bring in reinforcements for 2020 and try to make a run? Or are they better off selling at the deadline and reloading in 2021? We’ll take a look at both potential scenarios here.

Potential Targets if the Patriots Buy

Michael Gallup

After a breakout season in 2019, it’s been a statistically down year so far for Michael Gallup. He has 19 catches for 371 yards on the season. While his talent is evident, there have been a lot of mouths to feed this year in Dallas, and losing quarterback Dak Prescott for the season has only made things worse. Gallup would provide the Patriots with a legitimate outside receiver. He is a serious deep target and he’s a threat to score on any given play.

A talented young playmaker with another year left on his rookie deal wouldn’t typically be available, but the emergence of rookie CeeDee Lamb along with Dallas’ abundance of offensive weapons, combined with having several holes to fill elsewhere, might make Gallup somewhat expendable. Plus, the Cowboys have already been active before the deadline, trading Everson Griffen to Detroit for a 6th round pick. If they decide to be full-on sellers, the Patriots should be calling about Gallup, who can not only help now but also offers upside in the future.

Projected cost: 2nd or 3rd round pick 

Adam Thielen

If the Patriots are wanting to make a big-time splash, look no further than Adam Thielen. One of the league’s premier route runners, Thielen is under contract through the 2024 season and would not only provide an instant boost to the offense this season but also for the next few years. While the Vikings are not actively shopping Thielen at the moment, they’re currently last in their division with a record of 1-5. His age is a factor (he’s 30 this season), but his game should age well due to his reliance on precision route running as opposed to pure speed and athleticism.

We should note that it’s probably unlikely that he’s traded. But, it’s worth checking his availability. 

Projected cost: 2nd round pick and an additional late round pick

David Njoku

A former first-round pick, uber-athletic David Njoku has largely fallen out of favor in Cleveland. Although, Njoku did play the most snaps of his 2020 season last week against the Bengals. Even so, he still wasn’t a big part of the game plan. Njoku has slipped to third on the depth chart in Cleveland. He would likely benefit from a change of scenery.

Njoku has shown flashes of serious potential throughout his career, but thus far he hasn’t been able to put it together on a consistent basis. This season he only has seven catches in limited action. He is under contract through 2021 and could provide a nice veteran-esque presence to go along with the rookie tight ends next season. Trading for an under-performing but gifted player is exactly the type of low-risk high upside move we’ve seen Bill Belichick make so many times before.

Projected cost: 5th round pick

Will Fuller

Highly talented but often injured, Will Fuller has the type of game-breaking speed the Patriots’ offense has been sorely lacking. As we’ve seen this season, Fuller can be very productive when healthy. He has 31 catches for 490 yards and five touchdowns. That’s almost 16 yards per catch. Fuller would immediately make the offense much more dynamic.

The Texans will likely be sellers at the deadline as they look to get back some desperately needed draft capital after former coach/GM Bill O’Brien spent the past few years squandering it. Although Fuller fits under the category of a “rental” player, as he is a free agent at the end of the season, the Patriots would likely recoup most of the draft capital used to acquire him in the form of a compensatory draft pick if he were to sign elsewhere in the offseason. Fuller is going to be a hot commodity among receiver-needy teams, but nonetheless, he’s worth calling about.

Projected cost: 3rd round pick

Additional Targets

We decided to focus on the Patriots’ offensive needs rather than their holes on defense. However, the Patriots could use some more depth along the defensive line and they have a glaring need at linebacker. That being said, we don’t expect any huge trades at those positions. But, if they do, here are a few potential defensive trade targets.

  • Redskins EDGE, Ryan Kerrigan
  • Cardinals EDGE, Haason Reddick
  • Chargers DT, Linval Joseph
  • Lions LB, Jarrad Davis

Potential Trades if the Patriots Sell

Most Likely: Stephon Gilmore

By now the Stephon Gilmore trade rumors are well known around the league. In fact, it’s been reported he’s been available since this summer. Gilmore is under contract through 2021, but like this season, he will almost certainly be seeking another pay bump next season. He may even want a new contract. Though trading Gilmore would account for some dead money in 2021, the move would ultimately open up cap space in 2021.

Whether we like it or not, Gilmore does not seem to be in the Patriots long term plans. Therefore looking to maximize their return and move him at the deadline may not be a bad option. Having J.C. Jackson on the roster would help ease the pain of trading Gilmore, but we aren’t sure we’d pull the trigger just yet. If the Patriots can beat the Bills it may be worth holding onto Gilmore and trading him in the offseason instead. With that being said, if they can get a first-round pick for Gilmore we aren’t sure they can turn that down. Because of his age, a more likely scenario is getting a second-round pick in return.

Projected compensation: 2nd round pick 

There’s a Chance: Joe Thuney

It doesn’t seem likely that Joe Thuney is traded due to his high cap hit and impending free agency, but it’s certainly a move that makes sense for the Patriots. After the emergence of Michael Onwenu, and failure to find a long term deal last offseason, Thuney does not appear to be part of the Patriots future.

Given the number of injuries the Patriots have already dealt with on the offensive line, this trade only makes sense if the Patriots are punting on the season. Unless blown away by an offer, we’d much rather keep Thuney around the rest of the season. It’s important to remember that the Patriots will collect a compensatory pick if he were to leave in free agency. A blown away offer would probably be defined as a first or second-round pick. Is Thuney as a player worth a second-round pick? Yes, but again, his high cap hit and 2021 free agent status bring down his trade value significantly.

Projected compensation: 2nd or 3rd round pick 

Least Likely, but Possible: Julian Edelman

UPDATE: Julian Edelman is now out for the next couple of weeks after having knee surgery. It’s unclear when he’ll be back. The surgery news basically eliminates any trade conversations surrounding Edelman.

This one won’t be very popular with Patriots fans, but it makes some sense for the team and Julian Edelman alike. The issue is Edelman doesn’t have much, if any, trade value. Additionally, if the Patriots beat the Bills this trade becomes even more unlikely. This would only be considered if the Patriots are true sellers.

So far this season, it appears that Edelman’s extremely punishing and relentless style of play has finally caught up with him at age 34. Do we want Edelman to be traded? No, in an ideal scenario we’d rather he finish his career as a Patriot. However, barring any immediate improvements to the receiving core, it may be in Edelman’s best interest to be traded. Playing for a team that doesn’t need him to shoulder most of the load, like he’s expected to in New England, may help extend Edelman’s career.

The big question remains: How much would the Patriots get for Edelman? The answer is probably not much if anything at all. This move would be more about freeing up cap space for 2021, a year in which most teams (excluding New England) are currently projected to have little to spend. For all the reasons laid out, this trade feels unlikely, but it’s something to monitor moving forward.

Projected compensation: 6th or 7th round pick

Let us know your trade deadline targets!

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