Trade Grade: Patriots Confirm They’ll Have a New Starter at Key Position

The Patriots will have a new starting kicker in 2023: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
The Patriots will have a new starting kicker in 2023: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports /

For the first time since 2019, the Patriots will have someone besides Nick Folk at kicker.

That’s because New England dealt Folk to the Tennessee Titans on Tuesday in return for a 2025 seventh-round pick, shipping him out ahead of Tuesday’s 53-man roster deadline.

Nick Folk Trade Grade: B+

The writing has been on the wall regarding this move for months, ever since the Patriots took kicker Chad Ryland out of Maryland in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Perhaps motivated by Folk’s advancing age (38) and his slight downturn in production last year, New England felt the time was right to make a change at kicker. The Patriots have always valued the kicking game and special teams in general during Bill Belichick’s tenure, so they did not want to be stuck with Folk if he fell off the proverbial cliff this year.

While Belichick publicly entertained the idea of carrying both kickers on the roster this year, that never made much sense. Carrying an extra kicker is not a good use of a precious roster spot, especially when so many are freely available in the free agent pool if needed.

As training camp and preseason progressed, it became increasingly clear that Ryland was going to win the starting job. That was all but confirmed on Tuesday morning, when it was revealed that New England was shopping Folk in the trade market.

It didn’t take long for the Pats to find a suitor for the former Pro Bowler, who joins the fifth team of his NFL career.

While Folk will be missed, New England fans are excited to see what Ryland can do. He has big shoes to fill after Folk was one of the league’s better and most consistent kickers during his Patriots tenure.

As for the trade compensation, it’s pretty immaterial. New England had to move on from Folk regardless, and getting anything in return for a kicker is always a win. A seventh-round pick two years from now is unlikely to make a difference in the team’s future, but it’s still better than nothing!

Overall, I’d give this trade a B+. Moving on from an established kicker in favor of an unproven rookie is risky, but it’s better to trade Folk while he still has value and actually get something back for him.

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