The New England Patriots appear to be in the trade market. The team released tight end Ben Watson and, in doing so, cleared up roughly $2 million in cap space. The Patriots wouldn’t have done this if they weren’t planning on using that money to bolster the team depth. New England’s wide receiver depth chart could certainly use some improvement, as Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett are all battling a variety of injuries. Without further ado, let’s take a look around the league at some potential New England Patriots wide receiver trade targets.
Possible New England Patriots Wide Receiver Trade Targets
We already broke down a potential Stefon Diggs trade to the Patriots, so we won’t spend too much time on the wide receiver here. Diggs is one of the most talented receivers in the league, plays on a team-friendly contract, and clearly wants out of Minnesota. For whatever reason, Diggs and the Vikings aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, and the former fifth-round pick is looking for a new home.
Diggs would be a perfect fit in this offense, and the Patriots can afford to part with some of their high draft picks to bring him aboard. Unfortunately, there are some obstacles standing in the way of a potential trade. From a financial standpoint, the Patriots could acquire Diggs and lower his 2019 cap hit to just over $2 million with certain restructures. New England currently has $3.7 million in available cap space, so they could make this work. However, doing this would substantially increase Diggs’ cap number in the upcoming seasons, which obviously isn’t good when New England has so many impending free agents.
Complicating the matter is that the Vikings do not want to trade Diggs. Minnesota has publicly stated that they won’t trade Diggs, so they’d need to receive a ridiculous offer to even entertain the idea. Diggs is a great player, but Bill Belichick built a dynasty by not overpaying for talent. As fantastic as it would be to pair Diggs with Tom Brady, right now that’s looking like a pipe dream.
A.J. Green, like Diggs, is one of the best receivers in the game when he’s healthy. The former first-round pick suffered an ankle injury in the off-season and has yet to make his 2019 debut. However, he should be back to full health before long, and Green should return to being one of the NFL’s top playmakers. Green can line up all over the formation and would immediately be the top option in New England’s passing game.
Unlike with Diggs, the Bengals have every reason to sell Green. Cincinnati is one of the worst teams in the league and won’t be making a playoff push in 2019. Green is in the final year of his contract, and the Bengals could probably get a high draft pick in exchange for half a year of work in a lost season. Last year, the Lions traded half a season of Golden Tate for a third-round pick. Green’s better than Tate, so a second-round pick should be enough to get the job done.
The biggest question here is money. If the Patriots wanted to get Green, they’d need to find a way to clear roughly $3 million in cap. They have a few ways to do this, but they’ve already exhausted a lot of their cap-saving resources. Basically, all they have left in their toolbox is handing out extensions to Devin McCourty and Kyle Van Noy. However, doing this only takes away from New England’s 2020 cap space. They could make it work, but it won’t be easy.
Emmanuel Sanders is the most likely of the big-name receivers to end up in New England. The Patriots have a documented history with the former third-round pick, as the Patriots tried to acquire him prior to the 2013 season. It didn’t work out, and Sanders spent one more year in Pittsburgh before signing with the Denver Broncos in 2014.
Just like Green, Sanders is in the final year of his deal on a team with no serious Super Bowl aspirations. The Broncos are better than their 1-4 record suggests, but they’ve dug themselves into such a deep hole that they stand no shot at the postseason. Despite their rivalry from the Peyton Manning days, the Broncos and Patriots have actually made quite a few trades in recent years, so it’s not like these teams don’t have a history together. Sending over a third-round pick for Sanders’ services makes sense for both sides, and New England can figure out the financial end as they see fit.
While not nearly as exciting as the first three players on this list, Mohamed Sanu would be a great addition to New England’s depth chart. He’s not a star player like Diggs, Green, and Sanders, but Sanu is a perfect complementary player with a skill set tailor-made for this offense. Sanu is a fantastic route runner capable of generating quick separation near the line of scrimmage. He boasts great acceleration in open space and could be a valuable complement to the offense.
New England reportedly pursued Sanu in 2016’s free agency period but ultimately lost out to the Atlanta Falcons. While Sanu helped the Falcons make it to Super Bowl LI, he’s not helping the Falcons win anything right now. Atlanta is currently 1-4 and staring down another broken season. New England could probably get Sanu for a fourth-round pick, and Atlanta would probably deal him as they try to rebuild through the draft.
If all else fails, turn to the Miami Dolphins. DeVante Parker is easily the worst player on this list, but he’s still an NFL-caliber receiver capable of bolstering the depth chart. The Dolphins have embraced the tank like no other team in history and will sell any and all of their assets for the right price. Bill Belichick loves acquiring former first-round picks for pennies on the dollar, and Parker is in the final year of his deal. If New England can’t get any of the big-name wide receivers, don’t be surprised if they send a late-round pick to Miami for Parker’s services.
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