BOSTON (CBS) — Are Kony Ealy’s days in New England numbered before he even plays a meaningful snap for the Patriots?
According to a report by NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero, sources have told him that the Patriots have gauged the trade market for the defensive end. The Patriots just acquired Ealy in March, sending a second-round pick to the Carolina Panthers for the 25-year-old and a third-round pick. It was a curious move at the time, because the Patriots only moved back eight spots in the draft as a result of the trade.
A former second-round pick, Ealy struggled early in training camp and had an interesting reason for missing the team’s first practice, saying it was between him and head coach Bill Belichick. He has looked better as of late, showing some signs of breaking out in joint practices with the Texans last week. Though he didn’t record any stats in the box score, he had a respectable showing in last Saturday’s preseason game in Houston.
With both Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long departing via free agency and Rob Ninkovich’s retirement in the opening days of camp leaving a giant hole along the edge of the defensive line, Ealy is expected to play a major role on the New England defense this season. Mix in a potentially season-ending injury for rookie Derek Rivers, and the Patriots are pretty thin at the position, giving Ealy a perfect opportunity to shine as a pass rusher.
It would be interesting to see a team trade away a player they just traded for a few months ago, even at the relative low cost the Patriots paid for Ealy, especially given the team’s lack of depth at the edge. This could just be a way for Belichick to further motivate Ealy, and hope to get the most out of an extremely promising player.