The NFL trade deadline arrives at 4pm EST on Tuesday, giving teams one final chance to make an addition that could put them over the top. Of course, the first thing teams must decide is whether they're buyers or sellers, and at 3-4 that could be a consideration for the Patriots, with Sunday's upcoming result possibly playing a role in that decision.
But for our purposes here we're using The Athletic's round-up of one trade deadline for every team as a jumping-off point to find some additions that could make sense for the Patriots.
Marlon Mack, RB
As my colleague Paul Perillo pointed out in his recent NFL notes column, Mack could make a lot of sense for the Patriots after they lost James White for the year. So far, the team has primarily used veteran Brandon Bolden in the third-down role and he's already one catch away from setting a career-high. While youngsters Rhamondre Stevenson and J.J. Taylor continue to try to earn the coaching staff's trust, an addition like Mack could help add some proven veteran depth to the group.
Mack played just one game in 2020 before tearing his Achilles and now finds himself buried in a deep backfield in Indy. In 2018 and 2019 combined, Mack rushed for 2,000 yards and 17 touchdowns. Though the Colts are in the thick of it in the AFC, they could afford to swap Mack for a mid-to-low round pick.
Brandin Cooks, WR
Following the trade of Mark Ingram to the Saints, Texans' wide receiver Bradin Cooks took to Twitter to express his unhappiness and perhaps a reunion with the Patriots could make sense. Cooks is a lock to break 1,000 receiving yards every season and while the Patriots are still trying to manage their wide receiver group after adding Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, a player like Cooks would add a deep-threat element that might help open things up for the receiver group.
Let's face it, you can never have too many weapons in the NFL and the Patriots will be looking to build around Mac Jones going forward. There's little downside in adding a downfield threat like Cooks, who would immediately change the dynamic of the Patriots passing attack. With an affordable contract, New England could check in with Nick Caserio to see what it would take to bring Cooks back to New England.
Jamison Crowder, WR
Crowder is a different kind of receiver from Cooks and probably more in line with the kind that the Patriots have gotten the most production out of over the years. While Jakobi Meyers remains an emerging NFL star, giving Mac Jones another consistent slot target could be a huge boost to the offense on third downs.
The Jets receiver has been a 100-catch receiver when healthy and has jumped right back into the New York offense after missing the early part of the season. He's in the final year of a three-year deal so the financials could make sense for New England.
Kyle Fuller, CB
Another common target right now in Patriots trade prognostications, Fuller makes sense given the hits the cornerback position has taken this year. After adding two veteran cornerbacks to their practice squad, the Patriots have to be wondering if they have enough depth to match up with the league's explosive passing offenses. Can JoeJuan Williams build off a solid showing against the Jets? Can rookie Shaun Wade crack the gameday lineup after returning from a concussion? There are a lot of questions after J.C. Jackson and Jalen Mills.
Fuller was an All-Pro in 2018 with the Bears but has fallen down the depth chart and out of favor in Denver. Fuller has $5.3 million left on his one-year deal, which could complicate things if the Patriots were to try to make the move. While a reclamation project, he's still a proven NFL player who could benefit from a change of scenery. If New England doesn't have confidence in their corner depth, Fuller is one of the most intriguing options out there.
Trey Flowers, DE
The Patriots have been bringing back their old friends this year so why not keep it going with Flowers? The defensive end hasn't quite matched what he did in New England, battling through injuries, and clearly the Patriots know exactly how to use the versatile player who could give them another front seven option that can rush the passer.
Flowers is on a big-money deal and that would likely hinder negotiations, but he would still be a unique player that the Patriots' defensive front lacks and one that would add a new but familiar twist. The Patriots are likely set in their defensive front, but a quality person and player like Trey Flowers should always intrigue the team for a return, especially now that the coach who gave him that huge contract in Detroit is also now back in New England.