The trade deadline approacheth. Annually, the Patriots are the league's leading roster tinkerers at the end of October. Since 2012, there have been bombshell exports (Jamie Collins), inspired imports (Aqib Talib) and moves that seemed minor which wound up paying huge dividends (Jonathan Casillas and Akeem Ayers).
The Patriots don't need any help at all on defense. In fact, they could be sellers because of their depth up front, at linebacker and in the secondary.
But on offense? Their tight end depth and production both is grotesque and they are undermanned at wideout even with the impending return of rookie N'Keal Harry from injured reserve. There's real concern that, if offensive reinforcements don't come, an historic season from this defense may be wasted. More than anything, the Patriots need an inside wideout who can be a weapon on third down and make yards on his own. Like Danny Amendola was. Or Antonio Brown could have been.
Brown didn't work. And the aftershocks of the team betting on him continue. First, his $5.5M cap hit is still on the books and the Patriots will have to get inventive to get any player they want under the cap. Second, the Patriots traded away the kind of experienced player they'd love to have - Demaryius Thomas - once they got Brown up and running.
There are obstacles the Patriots face. One issue is league parity makes teams reluctant to raise the white flag on their season. Everybody's just a run of luck away from being in contention, it seems, and some teams that are already dead are direct rivals of the Patriots who won't be prone to dealing with them.
Also, who wants to get fleeced by Belichick?
But the Patriots have the draft pick artillery to make a trade. They also have the aforementioned depth they can deal somewhere else. So for a GM whose team is taking on water, it's sometimes better to make a deal to look like you're not just sitting on your ass waiting for the ship to sink.
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NFL Trade Deadline preview: Could Patriots look to add these players? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston