For the first time since 2015, the Patriots did not make any moves on or near the trading deadline, which passed at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
New England took and made several phone calls but didn’t reach any deals. Bill Belichick said via conference call Tuesday morning that some talks were taken care of last week since the Patriots knew they would be busy playing on “Monday Night Football” the day before the deadline.
“I think if you have a later game, like we had this week, then you use a little bit of the extra time last week to maybe check on a couple of things, or teams that want to communicate with us can and did do that knowing that we had a game on Monday night,” Belichick said.
“They might have initiated conversation on Friday or Saturday of last week. Sometimes these conversations go back several weeks, so you just never know. Each situation is different. I don’t think there’s any set formula. I don’t think it’s that big of a deal. Everybody’s pretty accessible by phone, so we can get a hold of whoever we need to get a hold of. Anybody that needs to get ahold of us, they can do that too.”
The Patriots were reportedly active on the wide receiver market, reportedly making an offer to the Broncos for Demaryius Thomas but lost out to the Texans, who gave Denver a 2019 fourth-round draft pick and a swap of seventh-round draft picks.
Another receiver, Golden Tate, went from the Lions to the Eagles for a 2019 third-round draft pick.
The Packers, who play the Patriots Sunday night, were active. They sent running back Ty Montgomery to the Ravens for a 2020 seventh-round draft pick and free safety HaHa Clinton-Dix to the Redskins for a 2019 fourth-rounder. Clinton-Dix has played every defensive snap for the Packers this season and Montgomery has 275 yards from scrimmage — 105 rushing yards on 26 carries and 170 receiving yards on 15 catches.
The Ravens and Texans added to their offenses but the one AFC team seen as the Patriots largest threat — the Chiefs — did not make a move.
The Patriots would have had plenty of ammo to make a trade without giving up a player because they have lots of picks in the 2019 draft. New England currently holds a first-round pick, two second-round picks, and could have up to three third-round picks in April depending on the compensatory pick formula. Compensatory picks are tradeable on a conditional basis.
The Patriots weren’t dead-set on protecting those assets, but they still prioritized planning for the future over making a splashy move.
Rodgers in gear
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers looks “just fine” ahead of his showdown against Tom Brady, Patriots safety coach Steve Belichick said.
Rodgers has started all eight games for Green Bay this season, despite getting carted off the field with a knee injury in Week 1. The 34-year-old has yet to shed his brace, but Belichick said he doesn’t think his mobility has deteriorated.
“I’m definitely not underestimating him and his abilities,” Belichick said. “I’m sure he’ll be ready to go. He’s proven that over a long, long period of time.”
Belichick also praised the two-time MVP’s accuracy as well as his arm. Rodgers is averaging 326.1 passing yards this season and has thrown a league-high 10 passes over 40 yards. The Patriots’ defense ranks near the bottom of the league in yards allowed per game and has struggled with surrendering big plays.
To prepare for the matchup, Belichick is stressing his “Safety Squadron” stick to the basics.
“Every play, in order to be a good play, starts with good fundamentals,” he said. “I always try to stress fundamentals — especially as the season moves forward, practice time cuts down a little bit.”
Rowe on IR
The Patriots placed cornerback Eric Rowe, who has a groin injury, on injured reserve.
Rowe missed the Bills game after not practicing all week and has been in and out of the lineup all season. He also battled a groin injury for much of the 2017 season.
Rowe has played in four games this season – against Houston, Jacksonville, Kansas City and Chicago – and has 10 tackles and one pass defended. He started the season as the team’s other outside cornerback opposite Stephon Gilmore but was overtaken by Jason McCourty. Rowe mostly played in the slot last season. Jonathan Jones is the team’s main nickel corner, with rookies J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen mixing in.
Rowe’s roster spot could go to rookie cornerback Duke Dawson, the team’s second-round draft pick this year, who is on IR but returned to practice last week. Dawson, who projects as a slot corner, could not return in time for the Packers game on Sunday but could be activated ahead of the Titans game the following week.
Former Patriots offensive lineman Jason King filed an injury grievance against the team. King, who was cut by New England at the end of training camp on Sept. 1, has yet to be picked up by another organization. He joins wide receivers Malcolm Mitchell and Kenny Britt as the third ex-Patriot to file a grievance against the team this season.