Bill Belichick has never shied away from wheeling and dealing over his tenure with the Patriots and that includes around the trade deadline. New England's czar has pulled off a number of notable in-season trades, which include shipping out the likes of Jamie Collins to the Browns and Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers in recent years. He's also pulled off deals in the midst of a campaign that has brought in some game-changing talent to the organization like Aqib Talib in 2012 and Kyle Van Noy in 2016. So what does the fast-approaching 2022 deadline have on deck for the folks in Foxborough?
Given the club's 3-4 record and its last-place standing in the AFC East, considering them bona fide buyers for the Nov. 1 deadline doesn't seem to be realistic. That's especially true when you consider Over the Cap has them currently just under $2.2 million in available cap space, which is fourth-lowest in the NFL.
So, it would seem like New England is more likely a seller at this deadline and that will be our focus when we look at a handful of potential deals the Patriots could make before the deadline.
Trade Damien Harris to Rams
Cam Akers' time with Los Angeles has run its course as the team has said it is looking to move its former second-round pick. His impending departure leaves Darrell Henderson Jr., Malcolm Brown, and rookie Kyren Williams as the top backs in the building. L.A. was one of the finalists to try to acquire Christian McCaffrey last week before losing out to the 49ers and its interest there would suggest the Rams are in the market to add some more talent in their backfield.
With Damien Harris looking at free agency this offseason and Rhamondre Stevenson emerging as New England's lead back, it would make sense to see if the Patriots could acquire some draft capital in exchange for Harris before they lose him in the open market this spring. Harris also seems to have a market as Pro Football Focus reports that teams have called the Patriots about the 25-year-old back.
If New England simply lets Harris walk in free agency this spring, they would be in line for a compensatory pick but it likely wouldn't compare to what the team could acquire if they elect to trade him prior to the deadline. While Harris is not McCaffrey, the former Panthers back went for three 2023 draft picks (second-, third- and fourth-rounders) along with a fifth in 2024. If that's the market for starting-caliber running backs, the Patriots should explore it and see if they can walk away with a couple of picks in the early to middle rounds of the draft.
As for the Rams, they are no strangers to dealing with the Patriots, particularly at the running back position. Before last season, these two teams completed a trade for Sony Michel that saw the Patriots land a fifth- and sixth-rounder in the 2022 draft. Given their prior trading relationship, Los Angeles' need at the position, and Harris' expendability, this makes sense all the way around.
As for some other logical destinations for Harris, Denver and Philadelphia would be interesting fits.
Send Isaiah Wynn to L.A. as well
Maybe you could package Harris and Isaiah Wynn together to the Rams for a more lucrative return or only one of these deals actually goes down. Nevertheless, Los Angeles could use help along the offensive line arguably even more than needing an additional running back and Wynn could be an option for them.
Wynn's move to right tackle has not worked out for New England this season whatsoever. Even with him missing a game and playing just 76.8% of the offensive snaps, he is the most penalized player in the league. When he's not having yellow laundry thrown at him, his play on the field has also been subpar. He's allowed two strip-sacks and because of that has seen his playing time be reduced and has even been benched for periods of time for veteran Marcus Cannon.
Given all that, it would seem like a change of scenery is needed for everyone involved. Meanwhile, the Rams have allowed 22 sacks on the season (fourth-most in the NFL) and recently placed starting left tackle Joe Noteboom on IR with a torn Achilles. With L.A. still in win-now mode and having that prior trade history with New England that we previous mentioned, acquiring Wynn could be an attempt to stabilize its offensive line and protection in front of Matthew Stafford. With Wynn making $10.4 million under his fifth-year option this season, however, it may be difficult to get a move done.
As for the Patriots, Cannon would likely assume starting duties if they cut ties with Wynn and Yodny Cajuste could factor into that spot as well if/when he is activated off of injured reserve after returning to practice this week.
Deal Kendrick Bourne to Las Vegas
Kendrick Bourne has seen a fall from grace with the Patriots in 2022. After finishing second on the team in receptions (55) and receiving yards (800) in 2021, Bourne has seen his playing time and productivity diminish greatly this season. He's played just 25% of the offensive snaps entering Week 8 and missed the club's loss to Chicago on Monday night due to a turf toe injury. Despite that dip, Bourne has proven to be a solid receiver and comes at an extremely low cost, which could be appealing to several teams.
The 27-year-old signed a three-year, $15 million deal with the Patriots in the spring of 2021. He had a cap hit of just $6.4 million entering this season and a base salary of $3.5 million. Not only would a team acquiring Bourne have him in the fold for the remainder of the 2022 season, but also all of 2023 where he has a base salary of $4.7 million and a cap charge of $6.9 million. If he can get back to the production we saw in 2021, that's tremendous value.
As for an ideal fit, how about the Raiders? After all, the coach he enjoyed that career year in 2021 is now the head coach in Las Vegas -- Josh McDaniels. The former Patriots offensive coordinator hasn't been shy about adding former New England players to the Raiders and Bourne would help deepen a pass-catching group that already has Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Mack Hollins. Hollins is also set to be a free agent after this season, so Bourne could adopt his targets in 2023 if they let him walk.
Las Vegas also has plenty of draft capital over the next few years to facilitate such a deal.