Unless it comes in the form of a free-agent addition, the New England Patriots are not adding pass-rush, receiving, linebacker or any other help before the end of the NFL season.
The trade deadline came and went on Halloween at 4 p.m., and the Patriots elected to stand pat after moving backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers for a 2018 second-round pick. There will be no tricks nor treats, simply unopened doors with the outdoor lights shut off.
That means the Patriots are moving forward with Trey Flowers, Deatrich Wise, Cassius Marsh, Adam Butler and Geneo Grissom as their pass rushers, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, David Harris, Marquis Flowers and Trevor Reilly at linebacker and Brandin Cooks, Danny Amedola, Phillip Dorsett, Matthew Slater and a banged up Chris Hogan at wideout.
It also means the Patriots are holding onto all four of their running backs and cornerback Malcolm Butler. There was speculation that the Patriots could trade Butler or a running back to fill another need.
The Patriots can activate Shea McClellin off of injured reserve prior to Week 10. That will give them a boost at pass rush and/or linebacker. McClellin has played on the edge and at inside linebacker in the past.
The Patriots also can activate wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell or defensive tackle Vincent Valentine from injured reserve if either are ready before the end of the season. The Patriots could elect to play it by ear and decide which position required more help.
Based on early social media returns, Patriots fans are unhappy with their team’s inactivity. But the Patriots did acquire four players at the end of the summer in Marsh, Flowers, Dorsett and cornerback Johnson Bademosi. It seems more likely the Patriots would have made a deal if they hadn’t dealt for those four players at the end of the summer.
It’s also possible the Patriots would have felt more compelled to make a move if their defense was still struggling as bad as it was in the first four weeks of the season. The Patriots’ defense ranked 31st in the NFL in points allowed after four games. They now rank 18th and are tied for third over the last three weeks.
They should have cornerback Stephon Gilmore and defensive tackle Malcom Brown returning from injuries, which could give a further boost. The shoulder injury wide receiver Chris Hogan suffered in Week 8 reportedly isn’t considered serious, so he should be back sooner than later, as well.
The Patriots will need to acquire a backup quarterback before Week 10. The most likely candidate appears to be Brian Hoyer, who previously served as a Patriots reserve and was released by the 49ers after they acquired Garoppolo.
The Patriots are banking on continuing to improve from within. Only time will tell if that was a wise gamble.
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