The New England Patriots love wheeling and dealing around the NFL Draft.
In total, the Patriots have made 82 trades in late April and early May since Bill Belichick became head coach in 2000, according to Pro Football Reference. The majority of those have only been draft pick-for-draft pick swaps. But the Patriots have dealt for six veteran players in April.
2018: Third-round pick to Oakland Raiders for LT Trent Brown and a fifth-round pick
2018: Fifth-round pick Kansas City Chiefs for TE James O’Shaughnessy and a sixth-round pick
2013: Seventh-round pick Tampa Bay Buccaneers for RB LeGarrette Blount
2009: 2010 fifth-round pick to Buccaneers for TE Alex Smith
2007: Fourth-round pick to Raiders for WR Randy Moss
2004: Second-round pick Cincinnati Bengals for RB Corey Dillon
We were discussing veteran pass-catchers the Patriots could acquire in trades before the NFL year began in March. The Patriots didn’t add any players via trade in March, but they do have another opportunity around draft time.
The Patriots currently have just $1,101,775 in cap space, per PatsCap’s Miguel Benzan. They have multiple ways to free up more cap space, which they’ll need to do just to sign their draft class. The Patriots will almost certainly free up a large chunk of cap room by extending or trading left guard Joe Thuney, who is taking up $14,781,000 on a franchise tag.
So, let’s now revisit those players who could be acquired for picks.
WR Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans
Cap hit: $4,017,921
The Titans don’t necessarily need the cap space they would free up by trading Davis, but he has been a disappointment after being selected in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
WR Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers
Cap hit: $3,248,190
The Patriots would likely have to give up a haul to acquire Williams. They would then have to extend him or pay him handsomely on a fifth-year option. He’s a good player and a big-play threat, but is it worth the ultimate price tag?
WR John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals
Cap hit: $2,798,982
This one seems unlikely after the Patriots signed free-agent wide receiver Damiere Byrd, who would likely fill the same role as Ross, who is largely unproven in the NFL.
TE O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap hit: $1,977,936
The Patriots would probably love to have him, but so would new Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.
TE Evan Engram, New York Giants
Cap hit: $1,926,621
This is the Patriots’ most likely option if they like Engram’s skill set as a move tight end. The Giants have some tight end depth with Levine Toiolo and Kaden Smith. The Patriots could possibly get Engram for a third-round pick. Would they rather spend that pick on a rookie tight end like Adam Trautman or Albert Okwuegbunam? Possibly, but Engram is more proven.
TE David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
Cap hit: $1,763,910
This one is also possible after the Browns signed Austin Hooper. It all depends on how new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski feels about Njoku and using two tight end sets.
Here are some other options that the Patriots could potentially acquire in trades:
TE Adam Shaheen, Chicago Bears
Cap hit: $1,270,980
The Bears loaded up on tight end in free agency this offseason, signing Jimmy Graham and Demetrius Harris to add to Trey Burton. ESPN’s Mike Reiss floated out Shaheen’s name as a trade possibility. He’d likely only take a late-round pick to make the deal.
WR Odell Beckham Jr., Cleveland Browns
Cap hit: $14,250,000
The Patriots would need to trade Thuney to free up the cap space to add Beckham. This also depends on how Stefanski feels about his new wide receiver. The Patriots could certainly use a new No. 1 wideout signed through 2023.