7 players the New England Patriots gave up on too soon in the Bill Belichick era

New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins
New England Patriots v Miami Dolphins / Mark Brown/GettyImages
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Chandler Jones

As one of the few players that got away, trading Chandler Jones is a mistake that still haunts New England.

During his four seasons with the Patriots, Jones performed his way to the top of the record books. He became one of the best pass rushers in the league, totaling his then-career best of 12.5 sacks in 2005, and earned a Pro Bowl selection that year.

Once traded to the Cardinals in March 2016, it appeared that Jones had just started to play the best football of his career. Other than ending each season since then with double-digit sacks (other than in 2020 when he was injured), he totaled the most sacks of the 2017 season with 17 and the most tackles for a loss that same season with 28.

Two years later, he built upon that by ending the year with 19 sacks, continuing to prove he was still a menace on the field.

Jones spent six years in Arizona, being selected to the Pro Bowl three times before signing with the Raiders for the 2022 season. Now in Las Vegas, he makes up one of the most dominant pass-rushing duos in the league with Maxx Crosby and had one of the most iconic moments of the season in the game against the Patriots.

But we don't need to relive that mess, do we?

After trading Jones, the Patriots could not match the production they got from him for several years. That changed when Belichick signed Matthew Judon in 2021. Had they just kept Jones during those five years, who knows how good the defense could have been, or how much better they could be even now?