New England Patriots: Matt Ryan and 2 other trade scenarios for this offseason

January 6, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) moves the ball against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half in the NFC Wild Card playoff football game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots head into Week 14’s “Thursday Night Football” game against the Los Angeles Rams boasting a 6-6 record and having won four of their past five.

Unfortunately, New England is also two games out of the final NFL Playoff spot in the AFC with just four games remaining. It’s looking more and more like Bill Belichick’s squad won’t earn a postseason appearance for the first time since 2008. Interestingly enough, that’s the last time Tom Brady was not a full-time starter with the New England Patriots

With an eye to the future, New England needs to look at the offseason and what it might do in order to become relevant on the broader NFL stage once again. It’s in this that we look at three trades the New England Patriots should consider when the offseason gets going in March.

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New England Patriots trade for Matt Ryan

New England Patriots trade for Matt Ryan
Dec 30, 2018; Tampa, FL, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) throws the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Since returning from COVID-19, current New England Patriots starting quarterback Cam Newton has not been great tossing the rock. The former NFL MVP has thrown three touchdowns compared to seven interceptions for a 75.9 passer rating over the course of the past eight games. That’s terrible. And despite his 11 rushing touchdowns, Newton simply does not seem like a fit in Josh McDaniels’ offense.

The same thing can’t be said for the 35-year-old Matt Ryan. Suggestions are that he might be traded this offseason with Atlanta headed for a rebuild following the firing of head coach Dan Quinn. A former NFL MVP himself, Ryan is your prototypical drop back quarterback that McDaniels values. He’s also performed pretty well this season despite Atlanta’s team-wide issues, throwing 18 touchdowns compared to eight interceptions. Could the New England Patriots entice Atlanta in a trade for a first-round pick or a second rounder, more draft compensation and a player? It’s possible.

New England Patriots trade for Ezekiel Elliott

New England Patriots trade for Ezekiel Elliott
Nov 1, 2020; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott (21) runs with the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the third quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

We previously focused on the possibility that Dallas attempts to trade Elliott and his bloated contract. The former All-Pro performer is in the midst of a down season. With the Cowboys needing to lock up Dak Prescott long term or find another quarterback, their cap situation will be a major story come March.

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Under this scenario, the New England Patriots retain Cam Newton as their starting quarterback in free agency. The team then attempts to surround him with a player in Elliott who is still among the most-talented running backs in the NFL. Remember, the 25-year-old Elliott is coming off a two-year span that saw him tally 3,778 total yards and 23 touchdowns. Unlike trading for Ryan, it likely wouldn’t cost New England a Day 1 pick, either. In fact, Elliott’s contract will make his trade market relatively weak should the Cowboys look to move on from him.

New England Patriots trade for Michael Thomas

New England Patriots trade for Michael Thomas
Nov 24, 2019; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) walks off the the field following a win against the Carolina Panthers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

It was noted earlier this season that the Saints were looking at potentially trading Thomas a little over a year after signing the record-breaking receiver to a five-year, $96.25 million extension. There’s seemingly a rift between the embattled pass catcher and his organization. That was magnified with Thomas being suspended for a game after getting into a fight with a teammate.

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As for the player, Thomas has been historically productive since the Saints made him a second-round pick back in 2016. That included the Ohio State product hauling in a record 149 passes for 1,725 yards in 2019. This New England Patriots trade scenario includes the team pairing Thomas with Cam Newton. Given New England’s issues at wide receiver, it makes a lot of sense. However, it would also likely cost the Patriots a first-round pick and another high-round selection.

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