The NFL trade deadline is next Tuesday, Nov. 2, and this has been an area where the Patriots have historically been quite busy. Over the years, New England has made seismic moves around the deadline, including shipping away Jimmy Garoppolo and Jamie Collins while also making moves to acquire players like Kyle Van Noy and (to a lesser impact) Mohamed Sanu. The Patriots have already been active on the trade market this season, sending former Defensive Player of the Year Stephon Gilmore to the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago, so they are certainly not shy about wheeling and dealing.
Below, we've identified three players Bill Belichick should be keeping an eye on as we get closer to the deadline and should pull the trigger on a trade if they truly become available.
Kyle Fuller, CB, Broncos
The cornerback position in New England is likely the unit that needs an injection of talent the most. After trading away Gilmore and Jonathan Jones suffering a season-ending shoulder injury, the Patriots could use depth behind the likes J.C. Jackson, Jalen Mills, and Joejuan Williams. One popular name around Foxborough -- as recently suggested by NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry -- could be Broncos corner Kyle Fuller. He's in the midst of a bad season in Denver after he signed a one-year deal with the club this past offseason. It's even gotten to the point where the team has benched Fuller in recent weeks.
While there's certainly some risk taking on a player who hasn't performed well, Fuller would not be an expensive piece to acquire, and a change of scenery could help him turn his season around. He has starting experience and, again, would be a much-needed depth piece to this unit.
The Patriots did sign veteran corner Brian Poole to the practice squad recently, so they may not be looking to make a huge splash, but Fuller certainly seems like someone who could become available at the deadline if they wanted to pursue it.
Craving even more NFL coverage focusing on previews, recaps, news and analysis? Listen below and follow the Pick Six podcast for a daily dose of everything you need to follow pro football.
Andy Isabella, WR, Cardinals
The Patriots are starting to see some returns on their offseason addition in Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, but they could still use some speed at the receiver position. Arizona's Andy Isabella and his 4.31 speed would be a fascinating addition to this position, not just for the 2021 season, but possibly beyond that. The Cardinals are loaded at the receiver position, so the former second-round pick has been unable to see the field much this season, only being active for two games. That said, he has shown flashes of being a quality pass catcher, totaling 224 yards receiving and two touchdowns on 21 catches in 13 games played last season (34% of the offensive snaps played).
The former UMass product is under team control through the 2023 season, so this is a piece New England could look to build with as Mac Jones continues to develop.
Brandin Cooks, WR, Texans
The Patriots have never been afraid to go back to the well on a player, so it's not out of the question to think that Brandin Cooks could once again find himself back in New England. The team is looking for a clear No. 1 receiver and Cooks could be that missing piece to make the Patriots offense more complete around Jones. The veteran also seems like he's not exactly thrilled with his current team in the Houston Texans, especially after the trade of Mark Ingram when he took to social media with an NSFW reaction to the news.
Cooks spent the 2017 season with the Patriots and caught 65 passes for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns. With that history, one would think that the 28-year-old wouldn't need much time to get in tune with the offense that Josh McDaniels still runs.
The receiver also wouldn't be a financial burden on any team that acquires him in a potential trade, either, as he's due just $1.5 million for the rest of the season.
How to watch
Homecoming for Hunter Henry in L.A.
Hunter Henry will be making his return to Los Angeles and will play the Chargers for the first time since leaving the organization this offseason to join the Patriots on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. Henry spent the first five years of his NFL career with the Chargers after the club took him in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
"Obviously, they gave me an opportunity to play in this league, took a chance on me, drafted me, so always have a lot of appreciation for them," Henry, who inked a three-year, $37.5 million contract with the Patriots this offseason, told reporters of his time with the Chargers. "Who knows where I would be. I'm very thankful for the memories and the people I ran into there."
Henry admitted the hardest part about leaving the Chargers was largely parting with the community.
"It was bitter-sweet because of my wife and family and the community out there," he said. "I think that was the biggest thing, that was the hardest part -- the relationships we built there and separating from those off the field. On the field and organization-wise, I was very excited to come here and pumped to be part of this organization. There were definitely some hard times, but the excitement overshadowed that."
How Mac Jones' start compares to Justin Herbert
Bill Belichick himself noted this week that Herbert is one of the NFL's brightest young stars at the quarterback position and is poised to be an elite figure at the position for years to come. Of course, the Patriots also have a young quarterback of their own in Mac Jones that they hope will ascend to where Herbert is currently.
With these two quarterbacks set to go head-to-head Sunday, here's a look at how they compare through the first seven starts of their careers.
|First seven starts||Completion %||Passing yards||Passing TDs||INTs||Passer rating||Rushing yards|
Mac Jones (2021)
Justin Herbert (2020)
The Chargers quarterback had statistically one of the greatest rookie seasons of all-time in 2020, so it's not surprising to see him outpace Jones here, but this simply serves as one of the many measuring tools we can look at when evaluating New England's QB1.
O-line puzzle solved?
Entering the season, the offensive line was supposed to be one of the great strengths of the Patriots. However, that's not been the case through the first seven weeks. Part of that is due to injury, as starting right tackle Trent Brown has dealt with a calf injury that has kept him out the bulk of the season, while Isaiah Wynn, along with Mike Onwenu, spent time on the COVID list. That said, the play has not lived up to expectations, forcing Belichick to mix and match his O-line pairings probably more than he anticipated.
However, it does look like the team may have found a combination that sticks. Against the Jets in Week 7, New England rolled out Wynn at left tackle, Ted Karras at left guard, David Andrews at center, Shaq Mason at right guard, and Onwenu at right tackle. Those five allowed just five pressures and zero sacks (lone sack was credited on Brandon Bolden). That's the type of production the Patriots have been looking for, and it'll be interesting if they keep that unit together as they face a Chargers team that puts pressure on the opposing quarterback on 33% of dropbacks this season (fourth-highest in the NFL).
Meyers' father eager for first touchdown
Touchdowns have eluded Jakobi Meyers to an almost historic degree to begin the Patriots receiver's career. Through 36 games, Meyers has yet to catch a touchdown, despite putting up 126 career receptions for 1,478 yards. If he goes 39 more yards without a score, he'd actually set an NFL record for most receiving yards without a touchdown.
And it's not like touchdowns have simply not been there for Meyers. Instead, he's lost out on officially reaching the end zone in rather heartbreaking fashion. One example came back in Week 6 against Dallas when he caught a 25-yard touchdown from Jones, but the play was nullified due to a holding penalty.
One person who desperately wants Meyers to get the monkey off his back is his father, James, who has attended every game.
"He probably wants it more than I do," Meyers told reporters Wednesday. "That's like the last thing he said to me before I get out of the car to go into the stadium, like 'Let's get this touchdown this game.' I'm like, 'I'll do my best. I got you. I'm trying.' He kind of brings it up here and there. Like, maybe this week will be the week."
James will be in L.A. for the Patriots' Week 8 matchup with the Chargers, so he'll have another chance to see his son possibly get into the end zone.
Brian Hoyer a key mentor for Mac Jones
While we saw Brian Hoyer for the first time this season last week in cleanup duty against the Jets, the veteran quarterback has been a key figure behind the scenes in helping first-round rookie Mac Jones develop. Of course, there's no other quarterback -- outside of Tom Brady -- currently in the NFL that knows the Patriots; system better than Hoyer, who has played seven seasons with the Patriots throughout his career.
"Brian's been a really close friend of mine since I've gotten here, and I know he's older than me, and he might be closer in age to his son, Garrett, but he's still a really good mentor, and he just does a great job every week," Jones said this week. "He's super supportive of me and trying to help me in any way he can, and, you know, he's hard on me sometimes, which is good, so he holds me to a high standard, and then he also has fun and enjoys the game, so he's been around for a long time, and I think all the quarterbacks in our room have done that, and Brian is just a great example of a great team leader and a great team player, and, you know, if he ever needs to get in there, I know he's going to do a great job, so he's always ready, and I'm just happy to be able to learn from him and just be in the same room as him."
The Mac Jones era in New England has begun. Download the CBS Sports app to find out! Plus, get insight from our resident Patriots insider, Tyler Sullivan. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to pick the Patriots as your favorite team for up-to-the-minute news.