The NFL trade deadline is less than a week away. Could any New England Patriots players be on the block?
The Patriots have been known to trade players at the deadline in the past. In 2016, they stunned even their own locker room by shipping Jamie Collins to the Cleveland Browns. One year later, Bill Belichick begrudgingly dealt backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to the San Francisco 49ers. In 2019, it was Michael Bennett going to the Dallas Cowboys after it became clear he was a poor fit for New England’s defense.
This year’s trade deadline is Tuesday, Nov. 4, at 4 p.m. ET. Here are four potential Patriots trade candidates:
WR N’Keal Harry
Harry was the subject of frequent trade rumors during the lead-up to the 2021 NFL Draft. That speculation has resurfaced in recent weeks.
Despite his obvious physical gifts, Harry never has lived up to expectations as a 2019 first-rounder, averaging just 1.9 catches and 18.4 yards per game over his three-year career. Since returning from injured reserve in Week 4, he’s played 88 snaps over four games and caught three passes on five targets. He’s the clear No. 4 receiver behind Jakobi Meyers, Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and trails tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith in the Patriots’ pass-catcher hierarchy, as well.
He’s still just 23, though, and could benefit from a change of scenery. Maybe some team sees the highlight-reel catch he made Sunday and opts to take a flier.
CB Joejuan Williams
It seems counterintuitive to trade a player away from arguably the Patriots’ thinnest position group, but Williams — another disappointing 2019 draftee — has languished near the bottom of the depth chart throughout his NFL career.
Earlier this month, he sandwiched a mid-game benching between two healthy scratches. Against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 6, the Patriots chose to dress just one backup cornerback (special teamer Justin Bethel) rather than including Williams in the gameday roster.
The 6-foot-4 cover man did follow up that forgettable three-game stretch with his best outing as a pro, but one solid performance against the laughable New York Jets doesn’t erase all of his previous struggles. It might, however, have boosted his stock in the eyes of cornerback-needy teams. As with Harry, this could be a sell-high opportunity for the Patriots.
QB Jarrett Stidham
How much could you get for a quarterback who’s coming off back surgery and never has started a game in the NFL? Probably not much. But if another team believes Stidham has a chance to be more than a career backup — which is all he’ll ever be in New England, barring a major injury to rookie starter Mac Jones — it could be willing to flip a late-round pick to acquire him.
The Patriots would need to decide whether any potential return for Stidham is more valuable than keeping the 2019 fourth-rounder around as an understudy. Last season, they viewed him as a better backup option than veteran Brian Hoyer, who was demoted to QB3 after four weeks. Hoyer has been an invaluable resource for Jones as the latter navigates his first NFL season, but he’s also 36 and might not be with the team in 2022.
Stidham, who had some strong practices during the spring, has yet to be officially activated from the physically unable to perform list, but he did begin practicing last week.
G Shaq Mason
This certainly would qualify as a surprise move, as Mason has been the Patriots’ starting right guard since 2016. He owns the team’s third-highest salary cap hit ($9.5 million), though, and is on the books for $10.3 million in 2022 and $8.9 million in 2023.
Ted Karras has looked good in three starts this season, including two at right guard in place of an injured Mason. If the Patriots still view Mike Onwenu as a guard long-term — an opinion that may change based on how well he’s performed at right tackle — and believe Karras can give them comparable guard play to Mason’s at a much lower price, trading the longtime starter could be financially enticing.
Will it happen? Probably not. But it wouldn’t be the first time a big-name Patriot was dealt at the deadline.