The New England Patriots have spent this entire century doing things their own way.
In a league where trading players is more rare than one might expect, coach Bill Belichick has earned a reputation for constantly churning his roster by swinging deals for coveted puzzle pieces he deems a fit.
The Patriots have already pulled off a pair of recent swaps, sending tight end A.J. Derby to Denver for a 2017 fifth-rounder and acquiring linebacker Kyle Van Noy and a seventh-rounder from the Lions in exchange for a future sixth-round pick.
If Belichick’s relationship with Detroit general manager Bob Quinn, a former Patriots employee, greased the skids for the Van Noy trade, the Patriots coach made it clear this week that clubs league-wide appear hesitant to make deals ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.
“I mean, you know, there are a lot of teams that don’t … they seem kind of reluctant to trade — this time of year, especially,” Belichick said, per CSN New England, noting of the Van Noy swap: “It’s one of those things that came up fairly quickly and just worked out. It wasn’t something we had talked about or anything like that previously. As I said, it kind of came up so we were able to work it out.”
The infrequency of trades speaks to Belichick’s point, but general managers league-wide might also apply an extra dose of caution with the Patriots.
If you’re couched in your office in Cleveland, Houston or fill-in-the-blank city and Belichick dials you up … what goes through your mind? “We’re about to fleece the greatest coach in NFL history,” or something closer to: “Crap. What does Bill know that we don’t?”
Still, Belichick manages to forge through this league-wide reluctance to swing deals, magically adding players, padding depth and further evolving one of the only rosters in the NFL with a realistic shot at making this year’s Super Bowl.