I've been dreading to write this article. To be honest, Bill Belichick is going to pick up some no-name guy for a 7th round pick, and turn him into a complete super star. It happens almost every year.
However, I feel like I would be doing everyone a disservice if I didn't at least mention the names that have been floated around in the past couple of weeks. Lets take a look.
1. Kansas City Chiefs CB Sean Smith
There really isn't another guy that I want more on the trade market right now than Sean Smith, the defensive back for the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs are a complete mess this year, failing to put a quality offensive product on the field, which has shown in their overall record of 3-5. I was hoping they would lose yesterday to the Lions, cementing their inability to make the playoffs even further into ownership's mind, but they were able to come away with a victory. Sitting 3rd in the AFC West, behind the Broncos and Raiders, it looks like there is virtually no shot for them to make the playoffs.
While their offense has sputtered, their defense has been able to win them some games. #1 corner Sean Smith has put together a quality season up until this point and, at the age of 28, could be looking to start winning championships instead of personal accolades. The 6'3 corner is one of the better defensive backs in the game, and would greatly improve the Patriots secondary. With Malcolm Butler's inconsistent play and Logan Ryan's eventual demise, Smith would fit perfectly as this team's #1 cornerback.
Reportedly, the Chiefs have made Smith available for a 6th round pick, which should entice the Pats to pull the trigger.
2. Detroit Lions WR Calvin Johnson
It physically pains me to bring this one up. I hate jumping on the Fake-Rumors-Hype Train, but just hear me out for a minute.
Like many of you right now, I thought that the prospect of Calvin Johnson being traded to the New England Patriots was not only unfathomable, but wildly unnecessary. While LaFell is returning from an injury, last year he was one of Brady's favorite receivers and a cornerstone to their offensive success.
Playing devil's advocate, let me throw this out here: was that entire season just a mirage?
After all at LSU and Carolina, LaFell was known for not being able to catch the football. In his first game with the Patriots this season, LaFell had 6 drops. Coincidence or just rust?
If the Patriots were to acquire Calvin Johnson, many things would have to go right. The Patriots would have to give up a boatload to get him, restructure his contract, and get him integrated into a complex offensive scheme in time to be ready for the playoffs. All of this is doable, but the chances are slim.
However, this does sound a lot like the Randy Moss situation...
3. San Francisco 49ers OT Joe Staley
This isn't a real sexy name like everyone wants, but the fact of the matter is that the Patriots aren't a very flawed team. Sure, it would be awesome to get Megatron or Sean Smith, but if they don't get these players, chances are they will still make it to the Super Bowl.
One small area of concern, however, is the offensive line. With Shaq Mason, Tre Jackson, and Marcus Cannon all being injured, with various levels of seriousness, some added depth could be exactly what this team needs. Joe Staley has been one of the better left tackles in football since being drafted as a first rounder in 2007. Originally a right tackle, he made the transition over to the QB's blind side and made the Pro Bowl. With the turmoil that is the 49ers, Staley's name has been floated around in possible trade rumors.
The 31-year-old is under contract through 2019, so his acquisition could mean a move back to right tackle once Nate Solder returns next season.
Staley may not Joe Thomas, but he also won't command the same return. Added depth at the guard and tackle positions could be an area of concern if everyone doesn't heal right for the playoffs.
By Pete Packowski