What AJ Derby Trade, Acquisition Of Kyle Van Noy Means For Patriots

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FOXBORO, Mass. — The New England Patriots did some wheeling and dealing a week before the NFL’s Nov. 1 trade deadline. And they might not be done.

The Patriots acquired linebacker Kyle Van Noy from the Detroit Lions for an exchange of draft picks and sent tight end AJ Derby to the Denver Broncos for a fifth-round pick.

The acquisition of Van Noy doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The Patriots have searched for linebacker depth since placing Jonathan Freeny on injured reserve with a shoulder injury and gave up very little for Van Noy.

In the past week, the Patriots have signed linebacker Trevor Reilly to their practice squad, worked out Rashard Cliett, Jasper Brinkley, Randell Johnson and Trevor Bates and now traded for Van Noy.

Van Noy joins Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts and Barkevious Mingo on the Patriots’ linebacker depth chart. The Patriots also have Shea McClellin and Rob Ninkovich, both of whom can play on the edge as pass rushers and at standup linebacker.

The acquisition of Van Noy suggests they would prefer to avoid playing McClellin or Ninkovich at linebacker. It also puts less pressure on the team to play Roberts for extended snaps as a rookie. The Patriots haven’t shown much interest in playing Mingo in a traditional linebacker role, mostly using him on special teams, and this deal implies an uptick in defensive snaps isn’t in his future.

The Patriots essentially got Van Noy for free, and as a second-round pick, it’s worth seeing if they can mold him into a useful player. He started all seven games for the Lions this season and hasn’t fared well, but he also has special teams value. At 6-foot-3, 243 pounds, he has the ideal measureables for a Patriots linebacker.

The trade of Derby, however, raised some eyebrows. The Patriots ideally will run their base offense with a two-tight end set, and they just traded all of their remaining depth at the position to an AFC rival.

So, what gives?

Good question. The value — trading a former sixth-round pick with no NFL production for a fifth-rounder — simply must have been too good to pass up. The Patriots also must feel comfortable they can acquire another player similar to Derby in the near future. They play the Buffalo Bills this week then have their bye.

The Patriots have fullback James Develin — who also can play some tight end — currently on their roster. They also have Glenn Gronkowski, who was used as a receiver in college, on their practice squad, and they worked out former Raiders fullback Marcel Reece before signing Gronkowski. Reece’s biggest strength is as a receiver.

Internet sleuths noticed that Reece followed the Patriots and Martellus Bennett on Twitter since he worked out in New England.

It’s unlikely the Patriots will go the rest of the season with just two tight ends, and they currently have an open spot on their 53-man roster. So you can expect more movement on the Patriots’ 53-man roster prior the trade deadline.

Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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