BOSTON (CBS) — With the NFL trade deadline just under 24 hours away, many are wondering if the Patriots will make a deal to solidify their roster.
Even with a perfect 7-0 record to start the season, the Patriots still have holes in a few key areas on their depth chart. While Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan have played well at times, New England is thin at corner with no true No. 2 to play opposite Butler. And while Bryan Stork is expected to return soon, a recent rash of injuries along the offensive line has left the Patriots’ thin at that position as well.
Bill Belichick is not afraid to make trades during the season so if there’s a deal to be made, the hooded one will pull the trigger. He’s pulled off a swap at the trade deadline in each of the last three years, with the biggest acquisition being cornerback Aqib Talib in 2012. The Patriots were the only team to make a move in 2013, nabbing Isaac Sopoaga from Philadelphia for a sixth round pick, and Belichick acquired Jonathan Casillas and Akeem Ayers at the deadline in 2014 to strengthen the team’s linebacking corps for the stretch run.
So far in 2015, Belichick has acquired linebacker Jonathan Bostic, defensive end Akiem Hicks and receiver Keshawn Martin to strengthen his team’s depth. With the NFL’s trade deadline set for 4pm on Tuesday, he may not be done.
Here are a few possible trade targets for the Patriots:
Jason McCourty, CB, Tennessee Titans
This is very unlikely to happen, as McCourty is due $7 million in each of the next two seasons, but having Devin’s twin brother in the secondary would vastly improve New England’s pass defense.
McCourty is one of the best players on the lowly Titans, who sit just 1-6 on the season. With an eye towards the future, Tennessee may entertain picking up future assets for one of their better players. McCourty doesn’t have an interception this season, but has picked off 11 passes in 94 career games.
Not to mention, adding another McCourty would also mean adding another Rutgers guy to Belichick’s roster.
Sean Smith, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
Smith isn’t the best citizen of the bunch, but the Patriots have done fine with reclamation projects in the past (Aqib Talib straightened just fine out when he arrived in New England). The 6-foot-3 Smith is an extremely talented corner in the final year of his contract, with nine career interceptions in seven NFL seasons with Miami and Kansas City. He has one pick and 18 combined tackles in five games this season.
Marcus Cooper, CB, Kansas City Chiefs
The third-year veteran isn’t getting much playing time with the Chiefs, but is a player that has been on New England’s radar in the past. The Patriots tried to claim Cooper off of waivers in 2013, but Kansas City had the priority. He has three career interceptions — all as a rookie in 2013 — but just one tackle in three games for the Chiefs this season.
Why could the Patriots be interested? He’s a Rutgers alum.
Alterraun Verner, CB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is 3-4 on the season and won’t be contending for a playoff spot, so they may turn to a frequent trade partner to pick up some more assets for down the road.
If the Bucs decide to open their doors for business, the Patriots should inquire about 26-year-old corner Alterraun Verner, who has 13 career interceptions over his six seasons split between the Titans and Buccaneers.
He has $2.25 million left on his contract this season and hasn’t live up to that big payday with no interceptions through seven games. Maybe the Patriots can turn around the career of another corner cast away by the Bucs, with Verner being a prime “buy low for a potential high reward” option.
Logan Mankins, Guard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Patriots could use some more depth along their offensive line, and Mankins certainly knows his way around the New England system. Now there’s just a matter of that relationship with Bill…
Joe Staley, Tackle, San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers are going nowhere fast, and may trade some key players off their roster like receiver Anquan Bolden and tight end Vernon Davis.
Also on that list is tackle Joe Staley, a 31-year-old tackle who has made the Pro Bowl in each of the last four seasons.
Joe Thomas, Tackle, Cleveland Browns
If the Browns open shop for a fire sale, tackle Joe Thomas would be at the top of many team’s wish lists. It would probably take a small fortune for the Patriots to pry the All Pro tackle from the “dawg pound,” given he’s signed through 2018. But he’s very good at protecting quarterbacks, and already has a little experience sticking up for Tom Brady.
Joe Haden, CB, Cleveland Browns
Should the Browns really open shop, All Pro corner Joe Haden could find himself on the move. It’s an extreme pipe dream, but if the Browns are willing to deal one of the best corners in the league and the price tag isn’t too high, the Patriots should consider it. They’d have to likely part with Jimmy Garoppolo and then figure out how to take on his $21.2 million base salary between the next two seasons, so don’t count on this one happening.
But it’s always fun to dream about an elite corner in the New England secondary.