After a season defined by uncharacteristic offensive issues, the New England Patriots are actively searching for ways to improve their stable of pass-catchers.
With NFL free agency set to open in less than two weeks, MMQB’s Albert Breer reported Monday the Patriots are evaluating potential trades for wide receivers and tight ends.
“I’ve heard the Patriots have been sniffing around the trade market for receivers and tight ends,” Breer wrote in his latest “Monday Morning Quarterback” column, “which isn’t hugely unusual but is noteworthy given (Tom) Brady’s desire to play with a better supporting cast than he had in 2019.”
Greg Bedard of Boston Sports Journal shared a similar report last week, saying the Patriots “are expected to make a trade on offense before free agency that could change the equation dramatically for Brady.” ESPN’s Mike Reiss also reported the team is “expected to aggressively pursue various possibilities” at wideout and tight end — two weak spots for New England in 2019.
Unlike free agents, who cannot engage in contract talks with other clubs until the legal tampering period begins March 16, teams are free to negotiate trades at any point during the NFL offseason, though they can’t be finalized until the new league year opens March 18.
Because of these stipulations, trading for a top-tier pass-catcher — say, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. or Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard — could be the Patriots’ best method of convincing Brady to re-sign this offseason. The 42-year-old quarterback is set to hit free agency next Wednesday for the first time in his NFL career and clearly was dismayed by his team’s lack of offensive firepower this past season.
Twenty-two NFL tight ends caught more passes than Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo did as a group (36 for 418 yards and two touchdowns) in Year 1 of the post-Rob Gronkowski era, and the Patriots lacked a reliable No. 2 receiver behind Julian Edelman, who had more receptions (100) than Mohamed Sanu, Jakobi Meyers, N’Keal Harry and Phillip Dorsett combined.