It took 20 years, but Bill Belichick finally completed a trade with the hated New York Jets last week, shipping wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to East Rutherford for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick.
With the Jets coming to town this Sunday, Belichick was asked to explain why he finally chose to end that drought.
“I would say there was a certain period of time when there’s no way this transaction would have happened,” the New England Patriots head coach said Tuesday in a conference call. “But during other periods of time, yeah. Again, we don’t want to help the Jets; they don’t want to help us. We’re in the same division, so they’re not the easiest trades to make.
“But if the trade’s good for both teams — and ultimately, what we’re trying to do is improve our team — we have 14 other games to play besides the games against the Jets. So do we want to help them? Do they want to help us? No and no. But in the end, if it helps us in the other 14 games and helps our team, then it’s something that’s worth considering.”
Following the Thomas deal, which came shortly after New England signed wideout Antonio Brown, the Belichick-led Patriots have completed at one trade with each of the other 31 NFL teams. The last trade between the Pats and Jets had been the one that sent Belichick himself to New England in exchange for a 2000 first-round pick.
While the Patriots rarely trade within the AFC East (just six times since 2000), Belichick has swung some notable intra-division swaps in the past.
“Look, we’ll try to help our team in any way we can,” Belichick said. “I’m not saying that a trade within the division you don’t have to analyze a little bit more closely, but we’ve done it before certainly with Miami with a player like (Wes) Welker (in 2007) or Buffalo with a player like (Drew) Bledsoe (in 2002). Those weren’t insignificant players at that time.
“So in the end, I want to do what’s best to help our football team, and I don’t want to help our opponents that much, but you have to give up something to get something. So you have to look at your situation and try to do what’s best for your team.”
The Patriots also acquired center Russell Bodine from the Bills two weeks before moving Thomas but cut him days later.
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