The Patriots and Atlanta Falcons were a perfect match in Super Bowl LI — as far as New England is concerned — and the two franchises might be ideal trading partners nearly three years later.
At least, that’s what ESPN’s Mike Reiss believes.
In his Sunday notes column, Reiss presented a hypothetical deal that would send receiver Mohamd Sanu to New England and defensive lineman Michael Bennett to Atlanta. Sanu, 30, is behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Matt Ryan’s pecking order, and Bennett, 33, has barely played this season for an elite Patriots defense.
From Reiss’ column:
“Ever since the Patriots couldn’t close the deal on free-agent targets Adam Humphries (receiver/Tennessee Titans) and Jared Cook (tight end/New Orleans Saints) in the offseason, the club has been searching for solutions to no avail (e.g., Antonio Brown and Benjamin Watson). So playing the role of esteemed colleague Bill Barnwell, who annually comes up with intriguing trade possibilities, here’s one that came to mind for me: veteran defensive end Michael Bennett to the Falcons for receiver Mohamed Sanu.
“When the Patriots traded for Bennett in March, they were more of a 4-3 defense, but the exceptional play of linebacker Jamie Collins and nose tackle Danny Shelton — both signed after Bennett was acquired — has morphed them back to more of a 3-4. So Bennett isn’t as much of a fit, and his declining playing time in recent weeks reflects that. Meanwhile, the Falcons are coming off a 53-32 loss to the Texans, need defensive help, would be dealing from a position of strength at receiver (Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley are still there), and head coach Dan Quinn has a background with Bennett from their time together in Seattle. It could be a win-win for both clubs.”
The Patriots are noticeably thin at wide receiver, despite the team’s 6-0 start to the season. Phillip Dorsett missed Thursday night’s game with a hamstring injury, while Josh Gordon exited the contest after awkwardly twisting his knee. Meanwhile, the perpetually under-appreciated Julian Edelman has been battling a chest injury for the last few weeks.
Sanu has caught 29 balls for 281 yards to go along with one touchdown this season.