According to an ESPN report, for the second time this week, the Patriots have swung a trade deal, this time on the defensive side of the football. New England is said to be surrendering its 2017 second-round choice (64th overall) to Carolina in exchange for defensive end Kony Ealy and one of the Panthers' third-round selections. Carolina has two, one of which is a compensatory pick, but at this point, it appears New England will receive the higher one (72nd overall).
The 25-year-old Ealy (6-4, 275) was drafted in the second round (60th overall) by the Panthers in 2014. He has appeared in all but one game for them over the past three years, that having been in his rookie year, but has only started 15 games. His production has been remarkably consistent, however. Ealy totaled four, five, and five sacks in each of the past three seasons. He also turned in a tremendous performance in a losing effort by Carolina in Super Bowl 50 (trio of sacks, an interception, and a pass-defensed).
New England needed to shore up its depth at defensive end this offseason with the expected departure of veteran Chris Long, who announced on social media that he would not re-sign with the Patriots, and Jabaal Sheard exploring options on the free agent market.
Ealy could potentially serve as a complement to up-and-coming talent Trey Flowers, who enters year three with New England in 2017.