The 2018 trade deadline has come and gone and the Patriots roster remains unchanged. Despite a pretty busy deadline for the rest of the league, New England decided to stick with the roster that they have. This is a mildly surprising move considering that the Patriots are no strangers to making additions at the deadline that quietly contribute to championship teams.
It would be wrong to definitively say that New England won or lost this deadline. If they go on to win their sixth Super Bowl, then everyone will be satisfied knowing that the team was already good enough. However, at this point in the season, it is clear that the team has a lot of flaws that even Tom Brady may not be able to mask.
The Patriots could’ve upgraded at a number of different positions. These include cornerback, running back, linebacker, and even defensive line. Stephon Gilmore has played well, but the team’s depth thins quickly after that. James White is the team’s offensive MVP, but he is still not a three-down runner. The team lacks youth and elite athleticism at linebacker. New England’s defensive tackles have been underperforming as a whole all year.
Based on some of the moves made around the league, it is clear that the Patriots could have improved their roster.
The Redskins acquired safety HaHa Clinton-Dix from the Packers for a 2019 fourth round pick. This is, in essence, a rental because Clinton-Dix is an unrestricted free agent after this season. The former first-round pick could have been an extremely clever pick up for the Patriots. Clinton-Dix is currently one of the highest rated safeties in the league this season according to Pro Football Focus. He would have provided depth at the safety position for New England, particularly in coverage. He has covered tight ends extremely well throughout his career, including Rob Gronkowski. The Patriots could have used him for another championship run, and even tried to sign him long term to replace the aging Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon.
Ty Montgomery is another Packer who was moved today. Green Bay sent the receiver/running back hybrid to the Ravens for a seventh-round pick. The Patriots do already have their own hybrid player in Cordarrelle Patterson, so it may seem redundant to get another one. However, Montgomery has more experience in a typical halfback role. He would likely be a more competent running back replacement in Sony Michel’s absence.
Both of these trades are likely unrealistic considering the Packers and Patriots will be playing each other on Sunday. They both, however, are within New England’s price range and should have been an option explored by the team. The Patriots could clearly use some help at running back considering how much they tried to use Patterson in that role on Monday night. Their secondary could also clearly use upgrades. Despite a strong showing Sunday, the Patriots have been in the bottom third in the league in pass defense.
Receiver isn’t necessarily a position of need, but the Patriots also could have upgraded there as well. The Eagles acquired receiver Golden Tate from the Lions in exchange for a 2019 third round pick. This is an expensive price for a 30-year-old receiver in the last year of his contract. However, Tate has quietly been one of the best receivers in the league. He has over 90 receptions in each of the last four seasons. He has also reached 1000 receiving yards in 2014, 2016, and 2017. Tate would have added a potent receiving target to the Patriots offense that Phillip Dorsett has been unable to provide.
Based on the flaws that the Patriots have, it seems like a mistake to not make any moves at the deadline. They will have a tough road to the Super Bowl against teams like Pittsburgh and Kansas City with the roster as it stands right now. However, as usual, Bill Belichick could see something that the rest of us can’t. Sony Michel could be returning soon, eliminating the need for another running back. Second round pick Duke Dawson will be coming off of injured reserve soon, which could be just what the secondary needs. It is wholly possible that the Patriots could end up just fine in a few weeks, finding ways to fill holes with the players that they already have. Still, it is curious as to why Belichick and the Pats chose to stand pat when their championship window is quickly closing.
Until next time – B$