Bill Belichick wasn’t finished working the phones after trading for linebacker Kyle Van Noy on Tuesday.

New England traded tight end A.J. Derby to Denver, the Broncos announced later that afternoon. The Patriots will receive a fifth-round draft pick in return, NFL Network’s James Palmer reported.


“A.J. is a young tight end who can help us immediately,” general manager John Elway said, via the team’s official website. “He has tremendous upside and will fit in well on our team.”

A sixth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, Derby missed his rookie season with a knee injury. The former college quarterback opened eyes in training camp this past summer, though, hauling in 15 passes for 189 yards and a touchdown in four preseason games.

When Belichick noted in August that his tight-end group was the deepest he has ever seen in New England, he singled out Derby as a key component.

Despite all of that promise, though, Derby has yet to catch a regular-season pass. With Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett drawing praise from future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez as the greatest tight-end duo in NFL history, Derby’s path to playing time was blocked.

If you’re keeping score at home, the Patriots flipped a fourth-round pick to Chicago for a proven Pro Bowl talent in Bennett and sent the unproven Derby to Denver for a fifth-round pick. That’s value.

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