Phil Perry

Barring possible Uche trade, sources anticipate quiet deadline for Patriots

Phil Perry shares what he's hearing about New England's trade deadline plans.

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A young, talented pass-rusher was dealt for a second-round pick ahead of Tuesday's NFL trade deadline. 

It wasn't Patriots pass-rusher Josh Uche. It was Washington's Montez Sweat. But might the Sweat deal impact what the Patriots receive in an Uche trade?

Per multiple league evaluators, there's a gap in terms of the value of both players -- both of whom are in the final year of their rookie deals, with Sweat playing on the fifth-year option as a 2019 first-rounder. Sweat has 35.5 career sacks in five seasons, averaging just over seven per year. Uche, meanwhile, has 17.5 in four seasons.

Uche had 11.5 sacks in 2022 -- more than Sweat has ever had in one year -- but there's also a size discrepancy between the two that benefits Sweat's trade value when comparing the pair, sources said. While Uche is an undersized pass-rush specialist at 6-foot-3, 240 pounds, Sweat is viewed as a more versatile 6-foot-6, 262-pounder.

"Just a bigger body," said one AFC personnel director. "More three-down value (than Uche). Also has had more production rather than a one-year wonder. You know what you're getting in Sweat. With Uche you're betting on the upside."

The Patriots aren't anticipating a second-round pick in return for Uche, who has received real interest from pass-rush hungry teams. According to one NFL evaluator, a fourth-round pick would represent good value for the 25-year-old. One NFC general manager, meanwhile, suggested that the best the Patriots may be able to do for Uche would be a fifth-rounder.

While perceived as being possible "sellers" because of their 2-6 record, Patriots sources have indicated that it's entirely possible the team does nothing at the deadline.

If that's the case and the Patriots hold onto Uche or other free-agents-to-be like Kyle Dugger, Ezekiel Elliott or Mike Gesicki, they could lose them to free agency for nothing in return. 

Getting compensatory picks for departing free agents may not occur if the Patriots -- who are among the league leaders in cap space for 2024 -- spend significantly on free agents this coming offseason. The compensatory-pick formula factors in both free agents out and free agents in, meaning expensive additions would cancel out potential comp picks headed to New England for expensive departures.

Hours remain before the 4 p.m. ET deadline, and all it takes is one team to make the right kind of offer for the Patriots to part with a talented piece. But as things stand right now, there is no Foxboro fire sale imminent. 

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