The New England Patriots are starting to seem like a team to keep tabs on as the NFL trade deadline approaches.
The Patriots don’t have many holes on their roster, but there certainly are a few areas in need of improvement as New England aims for a fourth consecutive Super Bowl appearances. Chief among these needs is a pass-catcher, and it remains to be seen if Bill Belichick and Co. will make a big splash by acquiring a superstar talent like A.J. Green.
Any trade the Patriots execute likely will be centered around one or multiple draft picks. But if a player were to be involved in a deal, ESPN wouldn’t be surprised if it was Michael Bennett. The network recently tasked its NFL reporters to identify a potential trade target for all 32 teams, and Bennett certainly appears to be the most logical option for New England.
When the Patriots acquired Bennett in the offseason, and then sweetened his contract, he seemed to be in line for a major role,” Mike Reiss wrote. “But it hasn’t unfolded that way, in part because two players signed after him — linebacker Jamie Collins and nose tackle Danny Shelton — are turning in career years and that has altered the team’s scheme to more of a 3-4. That isn’t an ideal fit for Bennett, who still can be a disruptive pass-rusher and now finds himself in more of a niche role. A reflection that Bennett’s time with the Patriots hasn’t gone as planned came when he was suspended for conduct detrimental to the team this week.”
It will be very interesting to see how Bennett’s situation plays out. The three-time Pro Bowl selection made his frustrations abundantly clear via his “philosophical disagreement” with his role, but the Patriots aren’t the type of team to succumb to a player. If Bennett continues to act in a way New England deems “detrimental,” it would be on-brand for Bill Belichick to act swiftly.
In an ideal situation for the Patriots, Bennett accepts and embraces his new role, which could end up paying dividends for both the player and team come playoff time. (Just look at Chris Long back in the 2016 season.) But if Belichick doesn’t see Bennett totally buying in by Oct. 29, it wouldn’t be shocking if the 33-year-old was shown the door.
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