With the Patriots’ 2022 NFL Draft in the books and much of the offseason history, it’s pertinent to wonder if the team has closed the gap with the Buffalo Bills. Before issuing an answer, we’ll evaluate the major phases of the offseason to see what impact they have made.
Those phases would of course be trades, free agency (both yours and others), and the always-pivotal draft. There’s still time to sign additional free agents, including those cut for salary purposes or other reasons by their current clubs, so we’d like to note that the book isn’t fully closed on player acquisitions.
But for all practical purposes, the building blocks for the 2022 Patriots season have been put in place. So let’s take a look at how well the builders have poured the foundation for success.
4. Patriots’ major trade activity
The Patriots made three significant trades to date this offseason. The first was to acquire Miami Dolphins receiver DeVante Parker. This was a nice move given the team received a fifth-round draft pick this season and only surrendered a third-rounder in 2023, when they’d likely get a compensatory third to replace it.
Parker is a solid addition and instantly becomes the Patriots’ No. 1 receiver, though he’s more of a 2A in performance. Parker’s problem, however, is injuries. He played in only 10 games in 2021, logging 40 catches for 515 yards and two TDs. Those stats aren’t going to move the needle much, but if he can stay healthy, he’ll still be a notable threat.
A second trade sent starting guard and road-grading run blocker Shaq Mason to Tampa Bay for a fifth-round pick. In an obvious salary dump, the Pats sent arguably their best offensive lineman out for a meager return. That wasn’t the best way to close the gap with the Bills at all. They also added linebacker Mack Wilson via trade, but we’re not sure if he’ll out-perform the other losses in the linebacking corps.
The Pats’ draft day trade-down to pick up additional picks was a nice maneuver after several top players were off the board. How they did with those selections will be discussed later on, but that move down eight spots was fine.
Had they traded out of the first round for even more selections, they’d maybe have hit a home run, assuming they chose the right players. With their draft record, however, that’s always questionable.