There’s not much left to salvage for the Patriots this season less than two weeks out from the NFL trade deadline.
At 1-5, ravaged by injuries and underdogs in their next two games, the Patriots are obvious sellers ahead of the Halloween deadline. And they know it.
“Given where we are, if I’m another team, I’d be calling on the availability of all of our upcoming free agents,” a source said.
And the Patriots are willing to listen to offers ahead of the trade deadline, per sources.
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The Patriots should be looking to acquire draft capital in the event they could move up for a quarterback in the 2024 NFL Draft as Mac Jones continues to struggle under center.
So, let’s take a look at some of the Patriots players in contract years and assess their value with the help of team and league sources.
OLB Josh Uche
Uche, 25, is the most logical trade candidate on the roster. Another team would value Uche, a situational pass rusher, more heavily than the Patriots.
Pass rushers get paid a premium, and the Patriots historically have not invested in players who cannot contribute on all three downs. Even with other edge defenders on the roster injured, Uche is 16th on the team in defensive snaps but leads the Patriots with 17 pressures.
One league source called Uche one of the Patriots’ best trade pieces. Most sources polled believe teams would offer a third- or fourth-round pick for the former Michigan defender. One source specifically projected a team offering a third-round pick for Uche and a fifth- or sixth-rounder, while another believed a second-round pick for Uche and a fourth- or fifth-round selection would be fair. One source believed Uche could be valued as highly as a third-round pick if the acquiring team wanted to sign him to an extension and he was amenable to that.
The biggest issue is that he’s injured and being held out of practice with knee and foot injuries.
Value: Third/fourth-round pick
S Kyle Dugger
Dugger was another player pegged as one of the Patriots’ most valuable trade assets. No one polled placed a value lower than a third-round pick on Dugger, a versatile safety who has proven to be a playmaker in the past. One league source believed Dugger would be worth a second-round pick if the acquiring team believed a contract extension was likely.
Sources believed the Patriots could get offers anywhere from the first to the third round for Dugger. Belichick places a high value on safeties, and there’s a lack of certainty at that position on the roster on the roster in the future.
Would the Patriots consider franchising Dugger, 27, if they can’t reach a long-term deal?
The idea of trading Dugger didn’t seem unreasonable from team sources polled.
Value: Second-round pick
G Mike Onwenu
Onwenu was viewed as the Patriots’ best offensive lineman heading into the season, but injuries and penalties have led to a disappointing start.
Onwenu, 25, has positional versatility at guard and right tackle. Team and league sources believe other franchises would offer anywhere from a third- to fifth-round pick in a deal for Onwenu. It’s hard to gauge how much money Onwenu could command on the open market, but the Patriots are set to enter the 2024 offseason with the most salary-cap space in the NFL.
One source noted it’s uncommon for a starting offensive lineman to be traded at the deadline because it can be difficult for an offensive lineman to come in and start at midseason.
Value: Fourth-round pick
WR Kendrick Bourne
Bourne, 28, has drawn trade interest in the past. He’s currently the Patriots’ best wide receiver with 28 catches for 307 yards with two touchdowns, and he’s coming off of a 10-catch, 89-yard performance in a Week 6 loss to the Raiders.
One source believed Bourne could be worth as much as a third-round pick. Most other sources placed his value around the fifth or sixth rounds.
Value: Fifth-round pick
TE Mike Gesicki
The undersized tight end didn’t have a major market in free agency, signing a one-year contract worth $4.5 million with incentives. Gesicki, 28, hasn’t made a major impact, catching 15 passes for 144 yards through six games in a Patriots uniform.
Franchised by the Dolphins just one year ago, Gesicki’s value has plummeted since. Sources believe the Patriots could be offered anything from a sixth-round pick to a late-round pick swap for Gesicki.
Value: Seventh-round pick
S Jalen Mills
Mills, 29, moved from cornerback back to safety this offseason and has seen his snap count nosedive.
One source believed Mills has no trade value whatsoever. Another source thought a team would offer a future seventh-round pick, at best. A third source said a team could offer a “very late-round pick swap.”
Value: Future seventh-round pick
QB Mac Jones
This is the trickiest one. The most damning response: “No trade value.”
One team source believed a trade would only work on paper if he was included in a deal for another quarterback — Kirk Cousins was used as an example — “where (Jones) can’t be here anymore, and they just want someone to take snaps for them the rest of the way.”
Another league source also mentioned the Vikings as a potential destination.
“Mid-round pick?” he estimated. “It just depends on a team that needs QB in the future but doesn’t think they will be picking high enough. Maybe Minnesota if Cousins isn’t in their plans?”
Value: Player swap toss-in