Patriots Mailbag: Why Trading Michael Bennett Was Right, Obvious Move


October 25, 2019

The New England Patriots traded a talented player Thursday when they sent Michael Bennett packing to the Dallas Cowboys for a conditional draft pick.

But Bennett became a player who could do more damage off the field than on it by the time the Patriots traded him. The Patriots’ defense is riding incredibly high right now as the best unit in the NFL. Everyone on that defense is jelling, excited and happy with the way they’re performing. The Patriots didn’t need a discontent dragging anyone down.

So, while Bennett made an impact in limited snaps, the Patriots had no choice but to get him out of the locker room as quickly as possible. The Patriots picked up the added benefit of salary cap room. We’ll see if they use it before Tuesday’s trade deadline.

It’s too bad Bennett didn’t work out in New England. But it’s best to cut losses now rather than letting anything fester if fences can’t be mended.

Let’s get into this week’s mailbag.

Is Sanu playing Sunday ?
— @dachoseone34
I would be shocked if he didn’t.

How much will Sanu be involved in the offense this week? #MailDoug
— @cjfarrell23
Josh Gordon played 18 snaps in his first game with the Patriots last season. Antonio Brown played 24 snaps against the Miami Dolphins in his lone game with the Patriots this year. So, I’d set the over/under around 21 snaps. I’d probably take the over, but I can’t see him getting much more than 24.

Sanu likely will share the No. 3 wide receiver role with Jakobi Meyers behind Julian Edelman and Phillip Dorsett this week.

I’m just interested to see where he plays in the offense. He’s been a slot receiver for most of his career, but it might be easier to integrate him into the system in the X-receiver role.

In your opinion, are the Pats done at receiver or another move?
— @GodfatherAlmada
I would be surprised if they made another move at wide receiver with N’Keal Harry coming back off of injured reserve.

Edelman, Sanu, Dorsett, Harry, Meyers and Gunner Olszewski isn’t a bad wide receiver corps. I think people might be underestimating Harry just because he’s a rookie. The guy was a first-round pick!

Could you see the Patriots bringing back a Maurice Harris/Cameron Meredith for depth considering they may be healthy now?
— @bostoncentral_
Definitely not on Cameron Meredith. I think they would need to suffer an injury or two at the position to bring back Maurice Harris at this point after adding Sanu.

They chose Gordon over Harris in training camp. I don’t think they cut Gordon to bring back Harris now.

The Patriots also have a pretty full wide receiver corps right now.

On Josh Gordon -if he?s going to be healthy and they consider him still talented enough that they?re worried about him going to a contender (since they?re presumably waiting to release him until after the trade deadline so he goes to waivers not FA), why put him on IR at all?
— @JasonGraziadei
I wouldn’t be surprised if Bill Belichick goes back to his old line, “We didn’t have a spot for him.” The Patriots won two games using Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski at wide receiver. And now they added Mohamed Sanu and have N’Keal Harry coming back.

There was going to be an odd man out at some point, and Gordon currently can’t play because of his knee injuries.

It was a surprising move, but I get it to some degree.

#MailDoug At what point do they move away from Sony as the primary ball carrier? He is slow, can’t catch and not elusive at all.
— @nickybnice
That might be a little harsh, but he hasn’t been great this season.

Michel ranks 25th out of 35 qualified running backs in Football Outsiders’ defense-adjusted yards above replacement metric. He’s also 25th in their DVOA metric and 21st in their success rate metric. That’s below average, but it’s not league-worst.

Michel is last in Pro Football Focus’ elusive rating. He’s forced just 11 missed tackles all season. He’s 46th out of 47 running backs with 1.89 yards after contact per carry.

That being said, I think Rex Burkhead will eat into Michel’s carries when he comes back from his foot injury. I think it would take an injury to Michel for rookie Damien Harris to start receiving regular carries.

The Patriots spent a first-round pick on Michel, and they’re winning with him. Don’t expect them to go away from him any time soon.

What is Adam Schefter?s deal talking about Brady not playing in New England in 2020? It?s like he is going out of his way to increase his negative opinion every segment he is on. Any questions around the team about his contract status outside of the company line?
He obviously believes that Tom Brady won’t be back next season. It is interesting. Adam Schefter isn’t a hot take artist, but he is leaning into this opinion pretty heavily.

I understand it’s odd that Brady and Alex Guerrero are selling their houses and that the Patriots QB is in a contract year for the first time in his career. I’m just not convinced Brady will leave Robert Kraft and the Patriots. I could see Brady electing to retire if the Patriots win another Super Bowl. At that point, what else is there left to prove? But leaving for another team? I just don’t get why.

Who has the bigger year for us, N’Keal or Sanu?

My vote, N’Keal. In my head, I figure he knows the offense more then Sanu at this point. #MailDoug
— @_cgutierrez
I’m going with Sanu. He’s guaranteed a starting role and will have a one-week headstart on Harry. I don’t know how big Harry’s role will be when he comes back. As I wrote Wednesday, it largely depends on whether the Patriots view Sanu as a slot receiver or X-receiver. If the Patriots use Sanu in the X role, then Edelman and Dorsett likely would be the other two starting receivers. If Sanu is used in the slot, then the X role would likely go to either Harry or Meyers.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Why does Belichick always feel the need to make dumbass decisions, out of nowhere, that prevent his teams from winning Super Bowls? Butler vs PHI? Surprising Gordon with IR? He needs to be investigated. Also what number will @AB84 wear in his second stint?
— @gofetchmycar
Like when he traded Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns in 2016 then the Patriots won the Super Bowl?

When do you think the Patriots get their first loss this season? #MailDoug
— @SenecaDavid1
Houston Texans, Dec. 1, Week 13.

Don?t you think that they are taking chances with the OL since there hasn?t been any new signings? #MailDoug
— @schimelmitz
Not really. The Patriots have already traded for three offensive linemen, and Isaiah Wynn is coming back. I just don’t think it’s necessary.

Other than yourself, who is your favorite person named Doug?
— @GregZollo
Fister is a good Doug. Marrone is another good Doug. Drabek is a pretty good Doug. Funnie if we’re going fictional Dougs. Pederson, Baldwin, Furnas, Jones — all good Dougs.

I don’t think I have a favorite other than myself.

Is there ever a quiet week there?
— @DanielF29405641
Yes, but it’s few and far between.

Hi Doug, do you think a Joe Thuney extension gets done before end of season, and if so, do you think similar to Shaq Masons deal?
— @belfastpatsfan
No, I don’t.

Who?s your all time favorite player that played for the Patriots? Again, your favorite, not the very best!
— @mvloppes
Lawyer Milloy. I liked him from his University of Washington days, though.

Why not impose a 60 second clock for reviews in a game? If a decision can?t be made in 60 seconds then the call on the field stands.
— @colbyfau
I like it.

Did you eat the Popeyes chicken sandwich
— @BrianJBaby
No, they’re bringing it back, though, right?

Any big plans for the weekend besides the pats game?
— @ben_my_friend
I believe I’ll be doing some Halloween-ish activities with the family Friday night, then I’ve got big plans to bring my daughter, Olivia, to Disney On Ice on Saturday afternoon.

how are you doing, Doug
— @PP_Rich_Hill
I’m pretty good. It’s been a wild week. Looking forward to the game Sunday.

Hows Olivia
— @TMurph207
She’s great. I took her to the trampoline park this morning, then she got a Happy Meal from McDonald’s. So, she had quite a day.

What are you doing? #MailDoug
— @DannyRoach17
I’m writing from the Gillette Stadium media workroom, actually.

DOUG, How is Wynn’s toe. Will he be back? Also what is the worst oreo flavor #dougsbugs
— @JCJurcz
I do expect him to be back when he’s eligible to come off of injured reserve.

I don’t like the red velvet Oreos. I think the cream cheese frosting tastes really fake.

I’ve heard really bad things about the Swedish Fish Oreo’s they released a few years back. The cherry cola Oreo’s were also not great.

How do I get over a broken heart? Josh ?
— @kristingoosen
Search everywhere for someone who will care. That’s what Jimmy Ruffin did.

Do you need an intern lol
— @SageGold_
I need at least two interns.

Despite the timing of all these transactions and roster moves, why is everyone so surprised that BB does not want to roll with 6 WR and these group of six does not include Matthew Slater? . After Sanu trade and NKeal comming off IR, Josh seemed to be an abvious odd man out.
— @matimce13
I’m not sure if I’d say Gordon was the obvious odd-man-out, but he did wind up being that guy.

what are you doing for your Halloween costume, Doug?
— @BenMahtin
The dad of a Minnie Mouse witch.

How did you get into the journalism/sports broadcasting business?
— @gillette_nation
A lot of people reach out to ask me this. The shortest possible version of the story: I graduated from Emerson College with a degree in broadcast journalism. I started out writing for my local paper covering high school sports and then transitioned to writing for a blog while working other 9-5 jobs to pay the bills. I got hired by NESN four years out of college and then picked up the Patriots beat job one year later.

I would say that I’m very lucky I had a supportive girlfriend (now wife) during those post-college-to-early-NESN years. I didn’t have a lot of money or spare time during that period of my life.

Do you ever answer any questions anyone asks you Doug? #MailDoug
— @Ash88J

Thumbnail photo via Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports Images
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