NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano
Twenty-four more days are available for NFL teams to trade players. The Patriots’ front office has around $14M available in cap space, and as of Monday night New England fans have about zero patience available for this team.
Frustration, disbelief and confusion are the best ways to describe what fans are feeling right now. There are so many places to point the finger, but placing blame won’t solve this organization’s issues any faster. What this team needs is a shake up, and Monday night’s debacle in Kansas City was just that.
Now it’s up to the Patriots to pick themselves up, get back on the horse, and circle the wagons. They have enough talent, at least on the defensive side of the ball, to clinch their division. But talent alone doesn’t always translate to wins, it also takes effort and patience. Two things players and coaches have lacked through four games.
In order to right the ship a lot of internal transformation has to take place in that locker room. However, infusing a new element onto a roster can sometimes provide the necessary spark desired to pivot a franchise 180°. Deals at the trade deadline don’t happen often in professional football, and they’re usually never significant moves when they do.
Bill Belichick trading for Aqib Talib a couple years ago is the exception to that rule. Talib gave a lack luster Patriots’ defense the jolt needed to spur a turn around that season. Question is – is there another player available this year who could do the same?
The desert and Motor City may offer solutions…
Larry Fitzgerald: If you’re involved with Boston sports media, and have a Twitter account, the odds are in favor you’ve been inundated the last few years with tweets regarding Mr. Fitzgerald. At 31, he still houses a pair of glutes that would make even Jen Selter a bit Jealous. And from a pure football perspective, trading for him makes a ton of sense for New England. He’s a savvy veteran receiver who has a complete game, and should be able to ingest a large, complicated play book fairly quickly. Acquiring Fitzgerald would appease Tom Brady, while also quieting the mob storming castle Gillette with pitchforks.
Chance of Happening (%35): I’ll be honest, the only reason I place that percentage even at %35 has to do with his contract situation and emergence of Michael Floyd. Fitzgerald’s cap hit of $23M next year will need to be restructured before the 2015 season. Problem is, how much does Arizona think he’s worth? I don’t think they want to tie up an exorbitant amount of money at that position. Then again, I said the same thing about Brandon Marshall, and the Bears went ahead and extended him before they were allowed to throw money at Alshon Jeffery.
Fitzgerald has not been a key contributor to Arizona’s offense thus far this season, and with Floyd taking over the number one receiver role does that make Larry expendable? Considering Drew Stanton is throwing passes for them right now, it’s all hands on deck for the Cardinals. This trade probably won’t happen, but the Patriots cap space and desperation at wide receiver makes it worth monitoring.
(UPDATE) With Kenbrell Thompkins’ release today, I’ll bump the chance of this happening to 43%. Thompkins’ release likely means Brian Tyms will have a spot on the roster going forward, but nevertheless it potentially opens the door further to a Fitzgerald trade.
Ndamukong Suh: The Patriots are desperate for defensive line help, and it’s not often a DT of Suh’s caliber becomes available. His relationship with Detroit is deteriorating and will most likely bolt town this spring via free agency. Suh has the ability to get pressure inside or out, and wreak havoc in the back field. When it’s turned on, his motor is second to none. There are shades of Warren Sapp within Suh’s game, who encompasses an uncanny amount of athleticism for a man that size. He is however one of the most undisciplined players in the league. Yellow laundry is constantly being draped on the turf due to his reckless tendencies. But the pros definitely out weigh the cons.
His attitude is a double edged sword. On one hand, it’s what makes him a liability by giving up costly penalty yardage, but on the other hand it’s what gives him the presence and nastiness defensive coordinators look for in the trenches .
Chance of Happening (10%): Here’s why Suh probably won’t end up in Foxborough – he likes football, but LOVES money. Now is he Albert Haynesworth? No. Big Al LOVED money, and LOVED donuts. I think Suh cares about the game and wants to be recognized as the best. That also means he wants to be paid like the best. It may take a contract making him the richest defensive lineman not named JJ Watt in order to please him. The Patriots just aren’t going to do that. They could possibly absorb the remainder of his contract this year if they massaged the numbers, but that could be difficult. And signing Suh or extending him past 2014 would be expensive.
Here’s the thing gang, this team is not playing well right now. The root of the problem is a lot deeper than this season, and can be attributed to a disconnect that exists between Belichick the GM and Belichick the coach. A lot of questionable decisions have drove them to this point.
Now Is there a move in the works to fortify either line, or give Brady some help outside the numbers? And Will they be able to circle the wagons like they have in the past? I’m not sure, but I do know the latter would be a lot easier with a cowboy from Fresno leading the charge.