The New England Patriots are off to a sluggish start to the 2020 season. The Patriots have notably struggled offensively over the last few weeks, which has further underlined the need for improvement on that side of the ball. Bill Belichick is now presented with the possibility to improve that unit through the trade market that could see New England add their next offensive star player.
Patriots offensive struggles continue
For the first time in 18 years, the Patriots hold a below .500 record in October, creating some outside concern around the franchise.
New England has limped through the last two weeks behind back-to-back losses. Much of which saw the team impacted heavily by COVID-19 that led to several notable players such as Cam Newton, Stephon Gilmore, and Sonny Michel missing action. Newton returned in Week 6 against the Denver Broncos after his bout with the virus but had difficulty finding his footing in the offense.
He struggled mightily in the loss, throwing a pair of interceptions, fumbled twice, and sacked four times. The Patriots’ offensive shortcomings have also presented the pathway toward improving the team through the trade market.
All that puts on the table the opportunity to acquire their next offensive star.
Bill Belichick, Patriots can make a push to acquire David Njoku
Over the last couple of seasons, the Patriots have lacked significant playmakers in their passing game.
New England has notably seen that absent from the tight end position since Rob Gronkowski last played for the franchise. The situation could lead Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ front office to explore possibly trading for Cleveland Browns’ veteran tight end David Njoku, who is reportedly still unhappy.
Njoku took to Twitter on Monday to shoot down that notion, but that sentiment was felt before the start of the 2020 season. He aired his unhappiness to the organization shortly after they elected to sign former Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper to a four-year, $44 million deal. Cleveland was unwilling to trade the Miami product, which led him to rescind his request on Aug. 1 after speaking with general manager Andrew Berry.
The 24-year-old has experienced varying levels of success in his brief NFL career. Njoku has struggled to break through due to injury and inconsistent play. In three games played this season, he has tallied five catches for 63 receiving yards and a touchdown.
Given his struggles, the asking price may be low enough in the Patriots’ ballpark of what they would be willing to trade. Njoku is also in the fourth year of his rookie deal that includes a $6 million option picked up for the 2021 season.
Could be a promising fit in New England
There has yet to be a strong push from the Patriots to acquire Njoku, but the possibility remains.
He has proven to be a physically talented passing game factor, but his inconsistency has led to his diminished role in the Browns’ offense. A move to the Patriots could give him a chance to shine in their system, which has a long history of extensively utilizing the tight end position.
Meanwhile, Cam Newton experienced much success during his time with the Carolina Panthers behind his strong connection with former Pro Bowler Greg Olsen in the passing game. The Patriots haven’t received much production from tight end Ryan Izzo this season, with just six catches on 11 targets for 82 receiving yards.
Njoku would provide a significant upgrade and give the team a legitimate vertical threat down the field. Ultimately, it’s all on Bill Belichick and the Patriots to explore that avenue.