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Sunday 7: Thoughts on Jacoby Brissett trade, initial Patriots 53-man roster, possible new additions

Ryan Hannable
September 03, 2017 - 6:00 am

1. One of the first thoughts to come to mind following the Patriots trading Jacoby Brissett to the Colts for wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was how it will impact the Patriots’ long-term future at quarterback. Does this mean there’s a deal in place to keep Jimmy Garoppolo around beyond this year? The short answer is no, the trade has very little to do with the future of the position. Just play out if in fact Garoppolo leaves after the season, the Patriots could potentially promote a quarterback from the practice squad (they likely will carry one with only two quarterbacks on the roster), draft one (which they’ve had a great deal of success in of late), or sign a free agent. From this viewpoint, we make too much of having a great backup quarterback. It’s a good problem to have, but as long as a team has at least an average backup, that is all that is needed. It isn’t imperative to have a second starter like some currently believe. It seemed the Patriots were in a position to keep Brissett on the roster, but after being presented with an opportunity to get a former first-rounder at a position of need, it was too good to pass up. Bottom line, don’t equate the trade of Brissett to meaning Garoppolo is definitely staying in New England after this year. Although it could still happen, there’s no correlation to the trade whatsoever. 

2. The deal seems like a true win-win for both sides. Given the injury surrounding Andrew Luck, Brissett gives the Colts a solid backup option who fits their offensive perfectly. Brissett is at his best on the move and with Luck, this is a primary element of the offense. On the flip side, Dorsett had been on the trading block for the last few weeks, as the former first-round pick wanted out of Indy as he was the No. 3 receiver. Speaking to the Indy Star, Dorsett’s agent, Ron Butler, said his client is viewing the trade as a fresh start. "Phillip is just looking for an opportunity," Butler said. "He got drafted into a situation where they already had a No. 1 and No. 2 receiver [T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief]. I think in New England, he goes there with an opportunity to really help them and play with a great quarterback. It's a fresh start." It’s not like he will immediately climb to the top of the depth chart because he will be the fifth receiver, but with some managing of snaps with the other Patriots receivers, he could see more plays some weeks than others.

3. The Dorsett trade could potentially change the way the Patriots run their offense. With Julian Edelman, it’s main focus was short, quick passes over the middle — a big-time horizontal offense. But with Dorsett, along with newcomer Brandin Cooks, another speedser, maybe the Patriots take more of a vertical approach this season. One thought is one formation could have Cooks and Dorsett on either side going deep to stretch the defense and allow Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, Rob Gronkowski and the running backs to make plays over the middle of the field. It isn’t like Dorsett is going to come in and be near 1,000 yards receiving, because that isn’t what he is, but he certainly will be able to help the offense, especially when it comes to stretching the defense. It appears the Patriots are re-adjusting the offense a bit post-Edelman.

4. There weren’t many major surprises when it came to the initial 53-man roster, but one of the biggest was the release of second-year offensive lineman Ted Karras. Out of Illinois, the guard had a solid rookie season backing up the interior line. He appeared to have another good summer and was one of the hardest workers on the team. According to a source, he’s fully healthy and is a candidate to sign with the practice squad if he isn’t claimed on waivers. Interior line remains one of the thinnest spots on the team so if he does return on the practice squad, he could potentially be elevated back to the active roster sooner rather than later. Veteran running back Brandon Bolden was another bit of a surprise cut, but his main job was on special teams and the team has seemed to add a number of quality special teams players recently. He was a free agent for most of the offseason and didn’t seem to have any interest from other teams, so it would seem without any practice squad eligibility, he could be awaiting a call from the Patriots in a few days/weeks to get back on the roster.

5. The current 53-man roster almost certainly will not be the one the team has come Thursday night. Keep an eye on outside linebacker Shea McClellin going on injured reserve, but able to return. This is why he wasn’t put on IR Saturday, since those players would be out for the entire season. If he gets placed on IR this week, he wouldn’t be allowed to practice until Week 6 and couldn’t return until Week 8. The team still has a few areas to look into upgrading, which it will be doing. It still doesn't have a primary punt returner, although Dorsett could be the guy. The team also seems thin at defensive end and interior offensive line. Don’t be surprised to see the Patriots make a few more tweaks and additions to the roster before Thursday.

6. As is the case year after year around this time, there always seems to be a few players released by the Patriots who get claimed on Sunday by another team. One of the biggest examples of this was last year and Cre’Von LeBlanc. He was claimed by the Bears and went on to start nine games for them at cornerback. Players who could fall into this category on Sunday are: Karras, Austin Carr, Devin Lucien and Kenny Moore. It would not be a surprise in the least to see the Jets make a run at Carr and/or Lucien.

7. New outside linebacker/special teams player Marquis Flowers addressed the media on Saturday for the first time since being traded to the Patriots from the Bengals this week. The two teams have completely different cultures, which Flowers was aware of due in large part to former teammate Brandon LaFell, who spent two years with the Patriots. “I kind of already knew everything,” Flowers said. “One of my teammates back in Cincinnati, Brandon LaFell, he used to always talk [about it]. … Work hard and basically follow the rules, and you’re not going to have any problems. Flowers said LaFell reached out after the trade and let him know he was there for any questions he may have. He also has Rex Burkhead on the team, another former Bengal, who has already helped by giving him rides.