The New England Patriots’ defense has improved considerably over the last two weeks with the return of defensive end Trey Flowers and safety Patrick Chung. But that doesn’t mean they can’t still afford to add a jolt of youth and athleticism into the front seven.
As of Sunday morning, Arizona Cardinals linebackers Haason Reddick, the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, and Deone Bucannon, a 2014 first-round pick and converted safety, were “viable” trade options, sources told CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, who wrote, “Some executives from other clubs have begun internal discussions as to the potential availability of either player ahead of next months trade deadline, and a trade would be a viable option, sources said, with the Cardinals generally willing listeners.”
Whatever that means.
Reddick and Bucannon were playing sparingly four weeks into the season.
Reddick then was on the field for 98 of 98 defensive snaps in the Cardinals’ 28-18 win over the San Francisco 49ers, according to Pro Football Focus. He made eight tackles, recorded a sack, forced a fumble and had two pass breakups after starting at outside linebacker.
So, either the Cardinals suddenly became sold on Reddick, who played just 16 snaps between Weeks 2 and 4, or they were auditioning him for a potential trade. The latter seems unlikely, but if the Cardinals are stupidly willing to part ways with their 2017 first-round pick, then the Patriots should jump at the opportunity to acquire him. Reddick is undersized at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds but likely would project as an outside linebacker in the Patriots’ hybrid defense. He would be the Patriots’ fastest linebacker, could keep up with running backs out of the backfield and add blitzing potential.
The Patriots have a little over $2.3 million in cap space, but Reddick only would cost $531,278 against the cap, per Miguel Benzan of the Boston Sports Journal.
Bucannon, meanwhile, only played four defensive snaps Sunday for the Cardinals. It seems more likely he would be made available in a trade, but his cap hit would be difficult for the Patriots to absorb.
His current cap hit is $6.2 million, and it only would go down to $4.6 million by the trade deadline.
The Patriots would have to restructure contracts to make room for Bucannon, and that’s something they’ve smartly avoided in the past. Bucannon likely isn’t worth that much trouble.
It would be smarter for the Patriots to wait and see if the Cardinals choose to waive Bucannon. It’s unlikely a team would claim Bucannon and take on his contract. If Bucannon is available as a free agent, he would be more than worth exploring.
It will be interesting to monitor both players’ snaps moving forward. Reddick being on the field for every snap Sunday was relatively shocking after La Canfora reported he was having trouble learning the Cardinals’ new defensive system. If the Cardinals decide they still want to shop him, then there likely would be many potential buyers, and the Patriots would be wise to be among them.