A few short months ago, Demaryius Thomas figured to be a key piece in the New England Patriots’ offense. Fast forward to the early stages of the 2019 NFL season, and the veteran wide receiver was shipped out of town by the wheeler and dealer that is Bill Belichick.
The Patriots coach unloaded Thomas to the unlikeliest of destinations: an AFC East rival in the New York Jets. The five-time Pro Bowl selection looked promising in New England’s preseason finale, but with the addition of Antonio Brown and the impending return of rookie N’Keal Harry, there ultimately wasn’t going to be a real role for Thomas. And the Patriots, who effectively took a flier on an aging skill-position player coming off a torn Achilles, managed to obtain a 2021 sixth-round pick in return.
The Thomas trade was by no means a blockbuster, but it maintained a trend we’ve seen in Foxboro for quite some time. As Nick Wright explained Wednesday on FS1’s “The Herd,” it was just another case of Belichick maximizing on an opportunity.
“…He did what he very often does, which is (he) takes an asset, buys it at X and somehow sells it at two-X even if the asset is not appreciated at all,” Wright said. “The Brandin Cooks trade to me — and I don’t think New Orleans nor the Rams are dumb organizations — but you look at Brandin Cooks, he (Belichick) trades the 31st pick for Brandin Cooks, gets a year of production out of him and then flips him for the 23rd pick. By the way, those were good trades for the Saints and good trades for the Rams. They just happened to be two great trades for the Patriots.
“Yeah, listen. He’s better at this than everybody and he understands that he actually is not better at drafting than everyone, because drafting is mostly guessing. It’s like being the best lottery picker. There’s no such thing, but if you have the most tickets, you’re gonna have the best chance at winning. He just always makes sure he has extra tickets and he has other organizations that are going to be desperate and he takes advantage of that because he’s never desperate.”
Wright makes a valid point. As much flak as Belichick and the Patriots receive for their by-and-large mediocre drafting over the past two decades, the franchise rarely swings and misses on trades. Just look at last season, for example. Jason McCourty, Danny Shelton and Cordarelle Patterson all were acquired via trades, and all played key roles in helping New England win its sixth championship. Similarly, trade products Martellus Bennett and Kyle Van Noy helped the Patriots notch their fifth title in 2016.
We’re not sure why the rest of the league continues to talk shop with Belichick and Co., but we can’t imagine New England fans are complaining.