Bill Belichick has made a history of using joint practice sessions to scout guys he eventually acquires.
That's apparently occurred again as various reports – led by ESPN – indicate that New England has made a trade for Saints returner Jalen Saunders.
The 5-9, 165-pounder was a 2014 fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma by the Jets. He was cut by New York after three games and then later played six with the Saints. He had a 99-yard kickoff return and 32-yard punt return in limited action last fall.
According to NFL Network the trade is for a future conditional seventh-round pick.
This preseason Chris Harper (punts/kickoffs) and Josh Boyce, who was recently cut, handled the bulk of the New England return duties. Veteran returners Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola will also obviously in the mix once the regular season gets underway.
Despite averaging 26.4 yards on five kickoff returns this summer, Saunders was beaten out for the New Orleans return job by Marcus Murphy.
Landing in New England this late in the process, there is no lock that Saunders will stick around past next week, although he certainly could be a practice squad option if he doesn't land on the roster.
Regardless, with his fourth trade of the summer and yet another deal to acquire a guy his team saw in joint practice Belichick once again shows he's never done tinkering with his personnel.