How will the New England Patriots approach the 2020 trade deadline? That’s difficult to predict, especially as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact NFL decision-making.
There’s much to learn, however, by looking back at New England’s previous deadline dealings.
Below is a rundown of the moves the Patriots made (or didn’t make) ahead of each of the last five trade deadlines. We limited these to trades made within two weeks of the deadline, so players acquired in, say, mid-September, like wide receiver Josh Gordon was in 2018, aren’t included.
This year’s trade deadline is next Tuesday, Nov. 3, at 4 p.m. ET
–Acquired WR Mohamed Sanu from Atlanta Falcons for second-round pick
–Traded DE Michael Bennett to Dallas Cowboys for conditional late-round pick
The Patriots got their shopping done early last year, acquiring Sanu — a smart, experienced wideout who’d been productive in Atlanta and Cincinnati — six days before the deadline.
Sanu was supposed to serve as a much-needed No. 2 behind Julian Edelman and help prop up one of the NFL’s shallowest receiving corps. That didn’t happen. He was great in his second appearance with the Patriots (10-81-1 in a loss to the Baltimore Ravens) but suffered an ankle injury one game later and was never the same.
Over New England’s final eight games, Sanu caught just 15 passes on 33 targets for 114 yards with no touchdowns. The 31-year-old didn’t make it out of camp this summer and currently is out of the league.
It’s notable, given the Patriots’ current needs, that Sanu is the only pass-catcher to appear on this list. Receiver and tight end aren’t positions they typically target in midseason trades.
The Patriots also jettisoned Bennett after it became clear the former Pro Bowler was not a fit for their defense.
Despite being linked to receivers like Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate, the Patriots stood pat at the 2018 trade deadline. They later signed linebackers Albert McClellan and Ramon Humber to shore up their special teams and went on to win Super Bowl LIII.
Tate could be an option this year if the Patriots plan to acquire wideout help.
Traded QB Jimmy Garoppolo to San Francisco 49ers for second-round pick
The Patriots rarely acquire big-name players in deadline deals, but they have shipped a few out in recent years. The Garoppolo trade certainly qualifies. Bill Belichick was criticized for only landing a second-rounder in exchange for his highly touted backup quarterback.
Garoppolo has not blossomed into an elite QB for San Francisco, but he did pilot the Niners to a Super Bowl appearance last year — and a win over the Patriots in Foxboro this past Sunday.
-Acquired LB Kyle Van Noy from Detroit Lions for seventh-round pick
-Traded LB Jamie Collins to Cleveland Browns for third-round pick
Sometimes, even contending teams sell star players at the deadline. That was the case with Collins, who’d started each of the first six games for the 6-1 Patriots and was a second-team All-Pro in 2015. The Pats moved him to Cleveland, then proceeded to play in each of the next three Super Bowls, winning two. Collins wound up returning to New England on a budget deal last season after flopping with the Browns.
The Van Noy trade is one of the best of Belichick’s career. The Patriots gave up next to nothing for a player who would go on to start 45 games for them and emerge as a key cog in the NFL’s best defense.
The Akiem Hicks trade went down Oct. 1, more than a month before the deadline. The Patriots were quiet after that.
Previous deadline acquisitions: LB Jonathan Casillas and LB Akeem Ayers in 2014; DT Isaac Sopoaga in 2013; CB Aqib Talib in 2012