Get ready for lots of Halloween puns if the New England Patriots swing a deal on the NFL’s trade deadline, which just happens to fall on Oct. 31 this year.
Will the Patriots make a fun-size deal and trade a running back? Will the deal wind up being a (milk) dud? Will it draw … Snickers from the rest of the league? Or will they eschew a deal altogether and pull a trick on fans by not supplying them with a treat?
Sorry. Just had to get all of those out of the way now. Don’t toilet paper my house.
Here are some positions the Patriots could address by 4 p.m. on All Hallow’s Eve.
This is the Patriots’ biggest need after Dont’a Hightower went down with a season-ending torn pectoral injury in Week 7. The Patriots proved Sunday they can get by with Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts and David Harris at linebacker, but their third-down pass rush clearly missed Hightower in their 21-13 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.
Pass rusher is a general term, but the Patriots could use an interior rusher or an edge rusher. Patriots coach Bill Belichick explained earlier this month that a player acquired at this time of year likely will have a clearly defined role when he comes in. What the Patriots need at the deadline is a player who can line up on third down and provide some pressure.
One interesting name being shopped is New Orleans Saints outside linebacker Hau’oli Kikaha, who has been a healthy scratch two straight weeks. It likely wouldn’t take much to pry Kikaha from the Saints since they aren’t playing him anyway. He could give a boost to the Patriots’ third-down defense.
The Patriots’ defense looked solid with Van Noy, Roberts and Harris at linebacker, but a more athletic option who specializes in coverage would be useful. The Patriots have used safety Jordan Richards when they need a more athletic body on the field at linebacker. A linebacker more experienced in that role would help.
This all depends on the severity of Chris Hogan’s shoulder injury. If Hogan will be out for a prolonged amount of time, and if the Patriots don’t believe Malcolm Mitchell can soon return from a knee injury that put him on injured reserve, then they need another wideout. The Patriots would be down to Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, who has a knee injury himself, and Phillip Dorsett, who was banged up earlier in the season, has just four catches for 85 yards on the season and hasn’t caught a pass since Week 4.
The Patriots’ red-zone offense has struggled, so another big body would be nice.
The Dwayne Allen trade hasn’t gone as expected for the Patriots. Allen doesn’t have a catch on the season, and another tight end to boost their red-zone offense would be nice. There are some intriguing options reportedly on the market like the Seattle Seahawks’ Jimmy Graham and the Detroit Lions’ Eric Ebron.
It’s concerning Allen hasn’t panned out, and there’s no guarantee another player at this position would either. Allen had 406 yards and six touchdowns last season. He has 0 and 0 this year.
The Patriots will have to choose between bringing Mitchell or defensive tackle Vincent Valentine off of injured reserve at some point this season. If it’s Mitchell, then the Patriots could need another interior defender. Starter Malcom Brown missed Sunday’s game with an ankle injury and Alan Branch got banged up in the contest, which briefly left the Patriots with just Lawrence Guy as a traditional 300-pound defensive tackle. Rookie Adam Butler serves as depth, but he’s undersized at 280 pounds.
Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images