Bill Belichick/Nick Caserio are one of the best trading general manager tandems in the NFL and this is unquestionable. Year after year we see them make trades that even upsets other fans. I often read comments after New England trades like “Why are teams trading with the Patriots when they are already the best team?” The fact is that Belichick follows the principle “buy low, sell high” better than most.
Often we have seen the Patriots acquire a player that is said to be washed up. However, when that player comes to New England, he experiences a career revival. That is the work of Belichick the coach and the GM at the same time. As a GM, he finds players for good value and then as a coach he is able to put the players in a position to succeed.
However, we must also acknowledge that Belichick and Caserio have not been perfect. There have been a number of trades that can be considered losses. This article will show eight of their best trades and seven of their worst. To be honest, finding bad trades was much more difficult and these trades are not that bad, all things considered.
15. Best – Trading For Brandin Cooks
Some people will argue that it is way too early to place Brandin Cooks on this list. However, I am going with what the paper fit and how I have seen Cooks play in the past. Cooks adds a dynamic to the Patriots offense that they have been missing since Randy Moss left: a true field stretcher. Sure, Chris Hogan did a good job last year in this spot, but to me, he is most effective running intermediate routes.
I think the Patriots saw that many of their quick wide receivers were being punished at the line of scrimmage in the Super Bowl game. This prompted Belichick to diversify his receiving corps and now someone can take the top of the defense. A first round pick (32nd overall) was a great price to pay for a talent like Cooks.
14. Worst – Trading For Isaac Sopoaga
When Vince Wilfork went down for the season, the Patriots knew they were going to need help on the defensive line. Tommy Kelly was also gone, so now the Patriots were real desperate. They needed a run stopper and as a result, they traded a fifth round pick and received Isaac Sopoaga in return. Sopoaga was supposed to be a run-stopper, but struggled mightily during his tenure in New England and the Eagles won the trade.
Remember, Sopoaga had just signed a three year $12 million dollar contract with the Eagles and was only eight games into this contract when New England received him. As a result, many thought Sopoaga was going to stick around in New England for the long term, but his play was very poor and the team released him.
13. Best – Trading For Aqib Talib
This was a classic Belichick move. Talib was a talented player in Tampa Bay. However, he had off the field issues and his league wide value had gone down significantly. Talib had been suspended multiple times and teams did not want to trade for him. Enter, Patriots. Talib was able to revive his career in New England and is a dominant corner for the Denver Broncos today.
Overall, trading for Aqib Talib turned out to be a steal for the Patriots. Talib immediately brought a swagger that the Patriots backfield was missing at the time. In his first game, Talib had a pick six. Talib could also match up well against other teams’ top receivers and was very valuable to the Patriots. All of this for a fourth round pick.
12. Worst – Trading For Barkevious Mingo
The Patriots were able to acquire Barkevious Mingo, a former sixth overall pick for a fifth round pick in August of 2016. When Mingo played in his first pre-season game with the team, he was flying around the field. It had me thinking that Belichick and Caserio had pulled off magic once again. However, when the regular season rolled around Mingo only played special teams. As the season went on, Mingo’s role did not expand. His contributions in his one year with the team were little.
Now I know you may be thinking that a fifth round pick is not much to surrender, but remember this is a team that has drafted many quality players in later rounds. They may have been able to do so again. Mingo just did not fit for whatever reason and this trade was not a success.
11. Best – Trading Richard Seymour
Richard Seymour was a great player for the New England Patriots and it was surprising to see him go. However, the Patriots traded Seymour on the downside of his career and received a first round pick that turned into one of their best offensive linemen, Nate Solder, who’s still with the team today.
There was also a ripple effect of this trade. The Patriots dealt their own 2011 first round pick to acquire a second round pick in 2011 and first round pick in 2012. The second round pick ended up being Shane Vereen, who was very important to the 2014 Super Bowl title team. Also, the Patriots worked some more magic in the 2012 draft to move up on two separate occasions to select Chandler Jones and Dont’a Hightower. What a great trade.
10. Worst – Trading Jamie Collins
You may be laughing at this choice because the Patriots won a Super Bowl after trading Jamie Collins. The defense also dramatically improved after trading Collins. So clearly, Collins and his freelancing must have been the problem, right? This may be true, but I have a problem more so with the return of the trade rather than losing the player itself. Remember, Collins was one of the highest regarded linebackers when playing for the Patriots.
Therefore, the Patriots surely could gotten more than a third round pick for this athletic freak? Maybe Belichick just wanted to send a message to Collins by trading him to the dumpster fire Browns. Who knows, but I think more was needed in this trade for the Pats.
9. Best – Trading For Ted Washington
Ted Washington might have been the deal that put the Patriots defense over the top in the 2003-04 championship season. Washington was a very good defensive tackle that clogged the middle of the field. Teams could not stop him one on one, so Washington was often double teamed. This freed up space for the Patriots edge rushers and this was a huge factor in the Patriots defense finishing fourth in total defense during the regular season. Washington also finished with 45 tackles, which is a very impressive number for a DT.
Overall, Belichick often makes trades for players that are in the final year of their contracts. It is a win-win for both sides. The Patriots get a good player for one year, while the player builds his value for free agency. In fact, we just saw this with Martellus Bennett last season, which was another very good trade by Belichick.
8. Worst – Trading For Duane Starks
A rare time where the Patriots trade for an older player and it does not pan out. The Patriots traded a third and fifth round pick to acquire Starks and a fifth rounder. Starks provided a nice veteran presence, but not much else. He was very ineffective on the field and his playing time was limited, mostly due to a shoulder injury.
All in all, Starks lasted less than one year with the team. Starks was released and the Patriots had to take a $1.5 million cap hit because of past bonuses. Adding to the problem is that we know how much Belichick values his draft picks. If he was willing to part ways with a third rounder for Starks, Belichick obviously saw something he liked. It just did not work out and it is clear that the Patriots would like a do over here.
7. Best – Trading For Wes Welker
I have no idea what the Miami Dolphins were thinking when they traded Wes Welker to the Patriots. Welker was showing signs of taking that next big step as a receiver and instead of waiting for this moment, the Dolphins gave up on Welker and traded him to a division rival for just a second and fifth round pick. Another example of Belichick buying low and selling high.
Welker went on to become one of the best Patriots receivers of all time. 100 catches a season was almost a given, he was effective at returning punts, and was a good blocker down field. Welker also does not get enough love for his durability with the Patriots. This guy took bone crushing hits up the middle, but kept on getting up. I think it is safe to say Belichick got the best of the Dolphins here.
6. Worst – Trading For Chad Jackson
Belichick would sure love to forget about this trade. The Patriots traded their second and third round picks in the 2006 draft to acquire the 36th overall pick. This selection was used on Chad Jackson. For a man that loves his draft picks, Belichick must have seen something he really liked in Jackson if he was willing to lose a third rounder for him.
Jackson did have all of the tools to become a good wide-out. He was fast, big, and had good hands. However, he could not live up the expectations and his career with the Patriots was only 14 games. During this stretch, Jackson only had 13 catches for 152 yards. Injuries then derailed him, and he was eventually released. Pretty clear that was not one of the better Belichick trades.
5. Best – Trade That Helped Land Julian Edelman And Rob Gronkowski
A simple trade that turned out to be one of the best moves in Belichick’s time with the Patriots. In 2009, the Patriots traded their third round draft pick to the Jacksonville Jaguars for a seventh rounder in 2009 and a second rounder in 2010. Guess who the Patriots drafted with those selections? Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, respectively. The Jaguars actually used the pick on a pretty good player in Derek Cox, but his career was cut short due to injury.
As for Edelman and Gronk, most people know the story. Edelman was a college quarterback that turned out to be a great receiver for Tom Brady. Edelman is also a tremendous blocker down the field. Gronk has become one of the best tight ends of all time and when healthy, he is unstoppable. This trade was one of the best moves by Belichick.
4. Worst – Trading For Albert Haynesworth
Another typical Belichick trade. Only this time, the trade did not work out for the Patriots. The Patriots acquired Haynesworth for a fifth round pick and ultimately, they lost a fifth rounder for nothing. While at his best, Haynesworth certainly could play. He was a beast on the defensive line and could stuff the run. Haynesworth was also supposed to provide Vince Wilfork with relief/form a dominant one-two punch. So at the time, this trade did make sense.
However, Haynesworth was not a good fit in New England. His play on the field was poor as he was often over powered. There were also reports of him arguing with coaches during games and this may have led to his release. Haynesworth soon fell out of the league altogether.
3. Best – Trading For Corey Dillon
I can understand the thinking behind Cincinnati trading Corey Dillon. His days as an elite running back appeared to be behind him and as a result, the Bengals tried to acquire an asset for Dillon while he had some value. However, similar to most situations, Belichick knew something we did not and the second round pick New England gave up was well worth the trade.
Dillon became a key component to the Patriots offense during the 2004 championship run. In the regular season, he rushed for 1,635 yards with a 4.7 per carry average and 12 touchdowns. In the playoffs, he rushed for 292 yards and two touchdowns. Dillon went on to have two more very respectable individual seasons with the Patriots before retiring.
2. Worst – Trading For Chad Ochocinco
The idea behind this trade was actually pretty good. After all, a few years earlier a similar scenario with Randy Moss worked out and maybe Chad Ochocinco could work out in a similar way. Too bad for the Patriots that is not what happened and this trade may be the worst during the Belichick era. Ochocinco only had 15 catches in his one year with the team.
I remember a game early in Ochocinco’s tenure with Patriots. He ran a deep route and he was wide open. Brady made a perfect throw and the ball just went right through his hands. That was the beginning of the end. There were also rumors that he could not grasp the playbook. Ochocinco only lasted one year with the team before being released.
1. Best – Trading For Randy Moss
Of all the trades under Belichick, the addition of Randy Moss is by far the best. The Patriots added one of the greatest wide receivers of all time to play with the greatest quarterback of all time. The cost must have been high for this, right? Wrong. The Patriots only had to trade a fourth round pick to get Moss.
Everyone knows how good Moss was while with the Patriots, but there are some other background stories that make this trade even more legendary. Moss has an out there type personality, sort of opposite to what the Patriot Way is. Thus, according to ESPN, Belichick checked in with team leaders to see if they would be accepting of Moss before he made the trade official. A great example of great management at work and this trade sums up how great Belichick has been with the Pats.
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