New England Patriots: Trade deadline inactivity is incomprehensible

Nov 9, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick is shown during the second half, at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin R. Wexler-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 9, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick is shown during the second half, at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin R. Wexler-USA TODAY Sports /

New England Patriots inactivity at the trade deadline creates more questions than answers as the team flounders near the bottom of the AFC East.

Fans of the New England Patriots have to be justifiably baffled at the team’s inactivity prior to the NFL’s trade deadline last week. It would be absolutely justifiable to ask if this team has a plan of action to lift it out of its doldrums, the last-second win over the hapless Jets, notwithstanding. Here’s why.

First, this team is not good. It’s actually quite poor as it’s still pedestrian 3-5 record indicates. Perhaps the team’s leadership felt that it was ready for a breakout from its doldrums so far in the 2020 season. The result was a lot of inaction at the trade deadline. If that attitude actually is the case, things are even worse than they seem.

The team has no wide receivers of any top quality with the terrific Julian Edelman on the shelf. And the 34-year-old even, when he’s on the field cannot be relied upon to carry the load for the team anymore.

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A nice effort from Jacobi Meyers against the hapless Jets was nice, but is that level of performance by the second-year pro sustainable? It may be too much to ask. Yet, the team as a previous article explained did really almost nothing of real consequence to remedy the wide receiver situation in the offseason or indeed recently before the trade deadline.

In the offseason, they had a slew of draft picks and drafted no wideouts, even though after Edelman, no receiver had more than 29 catches in 2019. None of them. They made no effort to acquire a legitimate No. 1 or No. 2 receiver. It was dreadful personnel non-management.

On the tight end front, they actually did acknowledge that there was a need.  As a result, they traded up and gave up extra picks to draft two tight ends in the third round. That effort was actually at least a rare and realistic personnel acknowledgment. They needed help at tight end. Lots of it. So acknowledging the major deficiency, they drafted to remedy it.

Sounds good. Problem is, they’ve received almost nothing from these two high picks, Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene. To date, between them, they have a sum total of one catch through eight games, half the season. Just one.

Additionally, the two third-round picks have had trouble even getting on the field. Not exactly a great return for the picks surrendered.

In addition, they did nothing to bring in a big back to help in short-yardage situations. The reasons this was of importance to the team were highlighted previously along with suggestions for players in the draft. (Buffalo drafted one of them, by the way.)

What did they do? Nothing, of course. So the burden rests as it has all season with their quarterback, just as it did last season. And their entire season is on the line, each and every time Cam Newton crashes into the line, and risks his career, on a short-yardage first down or touchdown attempt. Just as Tom Brady was forced to last season.

Trade deadline activity

So, after beginning the season looking up at the Miami Dolphins and way up at the Buffalo Bills, it would have seemed sensible to make some moves in one direction or another at the trade deadline to set the tone for the future.

Either be a seller and prepare for next season and beyond, or, conversely, be a buyer and try to beef up the club for a late run for a playoff spot (as remote a possibility as that might have seemed). So, what direction did the team take? Neither, of course.

They neither bought en masse (they did bring in a wide receiver for a seventh-round pick) nor sold. They did basically nothing significant. So in essence, the club stayed the course. They decided to do nothing and as a result to continue to be terrible in 2020.

They stuck with the status quo, which most NFL observers can readily ascertain, is not very good. So the strategy was, there was no strategy.

They didn’t sell players for draft choices for future team-building. (Though this does actually have some rationale since this team is so highly inept at drafting that in a roundabout way, it actually made sense.)

Here’s what an astute NFL observer Bucky Brooks, wrote on about the Patriots’ drafting the past five years, pointing the finger squarely at Bill Belichick,

"But honestly, Belichick has no one to blame more than himself. The future Hall of Fame has not done his job on the personnel front…New England hasn’t drafted a single Pro Bowler since 2013 (Jamie Collins), and it’s hard to identify any potential stars on the horizon."

So prior to the trade deadline, they neither bought to try to improve the club in obvious areas of great need. Like at wide receiver. Like at tight end. Like at big back. Like a run-stuffing defensive lineman. They essentially did nothing. And again, neither did they sell off pieces to accumulate “assets” for the future.

So, what is the plan? Frankly, it’s not clear if there is one. They will be back to square one at quarterback next season after Cam Newton leaves. And that’s where it all begins and ends. No quarterback, no playoffs.

And, even if you do have a quarterback like the tremendously talented Newton, if you don’t have a bevy of skill players to go along with him, you’re going nowhere anyway. Tom Brady couldn’t get this group to excel last season and likewise, neither can Newton this season.

So that’s the state of the listless, lifeless New England Patriots as they continue their descent toward the bottom of the AFC East (above only the hapless Jets) and their slide toward NFL oblivion. Everyone knew it would happen at some point, but who actually thought it would happen while that old No. 12 from Michigan was still playing? Not many, certainly.

The decision on Brady was a bad one and the chickens are coming home to roost, as they say. And now the head rooster, Mr. Robert Kraft has to decide who will right the ship as it flounders and begins to sink.

How the New England Patriots can turn their season around. dark. Next

The die has been cast by the current football operations team, and they came up with snake eyes.  They allowed the greatest of all time to leave and they are now looking ludicrous as a result. Brady bailed them out of numerous personnel blunders in the past and they clearly didn’t recognize that fact.

The big question going forward is, can this management team construct another winner around another quarterback? Right now, it isn’t clear who that would be, or how it would take place. We’ll see what happens next. This next offseason should be a doozy.