Kony Ealy has yet to play his first regular-season game for the New England Patriots, but his new team already is considering trading him, according to a report Friday by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero.
Sources told Pelissero the Patriots “have gauged (the) trade market” for the 25-year-old defensive end, whom they acquired in March in a trade with the Carolina Panthers.
This report is interesting for two reasons.
The obvious one is that it’s rare for a team to trade for a relatively high-profile player, then deal him again before he can even appear in a game. The Patriots only moved back eight spots in the 2017 NFL Draft to acquire Ealy, but he was expected to play a significant role on their defense this season.
The other is that the Patriots already are lean at defensive end after losing Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long to free agency, Rob Ninkovich to retirement and rookie Derek Rivers to a potentially season-ending knee injury. The only pure defensive ends left on their roster are Ealy, Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise (currently recovering from a head injury), Geneo Grissom and Caleb Kidder.
The Patriots are likely to use one or more of Dont’a Hightower, Shea McClellin, Kyle Van Noy and Harvey Langi in a hybrid linebacker/edge rusher role, but they can’t afford to lose many more bodies at D-end.
Ealy’s first Patriots training camp got off to a rocky start. He missed the first camp practice for undisclosed reasons (“Something that me and [head coach Bill Belichick] had something going on,” was how he described it), then spent the next few weeks working with the second- and third-team defense.
The former Panther has shown notable improvement of late, though. He reportedly performed well in New England’s joint practices with the Houston Texans last week, and he had a respectable showing against Houston in the Patriots’ second preseason game.
The Patriots will visit the Detroit Lions on Friday night in preseason game No. 3.
Thumbnail photo via Doug Kyed/NESN.com