New England Patriots: 3 wide receiver trade targets to keep an eye on

Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas #13 of the New Orleans Saints (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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New England Patriots
New Orleans Saints Michael Thomas (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots trade target No. 1: Michael Thomas

Michael Thomas’ status with the New Orleans Saints quickly became one of the hottest topics in the NFL earlier this offseason. After laboring through injuries last season, Thomas and the Saints training staff seemed to have differing ideas on how to get Thomas back on the field for this season. Saints head coach Sean Payton took a jab at his rehabilitation process over the summer, saying Thomas should have had his surgery before June.

Thomas and Payton have reportedly smoothed things over, but Thomas’ status is anything but concrete right now. He has voiced his frustration with New Orleans multiple times before, and it seems like those tensions have at least started to boil over.

Thomas’ situation is the most important to keep an eye on simply because of how good he is. Thomas made a case for best wide receiver in the league during his 2019 campaign, when he hauled in 149 passes (an NFL single season record) for 1725 yards and nine touchdowns. Thomas turned himself into one of the premier route runners in the league, seemingly always getting open, and has some of the best hands in the game to go along with it.

When healthy, he is at least a top five wide receiver in the league. The problem is, he currently isn’t healthy, and hasn’t really been for the past year or so. He got injured early on last season and only played in nine games (including two playoff games), and now is set to open this season on the Physically Unable to Perform list after getting surgery later than expected.

Making Thomas situation even more tantalizing is the fact they are dealing with something similar with Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore is supposedly still recovering from a season ending quad injury, and has reportedly been looking for a new contract all offseason long. If the Patriots wanted to trade him, New Orleans would be the perfect destination considering they have been looking for help at cornerback all offseason long.

New Orleans is set to enter an interesting first season in the post Drew Brees era. Inconsistent veteran Jameis Winston has won the starting quarterback job down south, and while he’s looked solid in preseason action, he’s no sure bet to be successful when the games actually matter. There’s a chance that New Orleans collapses and struggles for most of the season.

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If they do, it increases the possibility that they would look to deal Thomas. Thomas is still in his prime at just 28 years old, and whichever team would move for him would acquire a fantastic contract. That will up the price for Thomas, which is why New England would standout if they built a package around Gilmore in this case.

Thomas’ potential as one of the top wide receivers in the game alone makes him worth keeping an eye on, but the fact of the matter is, if he becomes available, the Patriots would likely have a really solid shot at landing him. There isn’t a receiver out there who could in and instantly improve the New England Patriots’ wide receiver room more so than Thomas, which is why it’s imperative that they keep an eye on him throughout the season.