In a league where trades are very hard to come by, the New England Patriots have been very active on NFL trade deadline day in recent years. This year was no exception. In fact, they were the only team to pull the trigger on a trade before the deadline passed at 4:00 p.m. EST today.
The team acquired former Philadelphia Eagles‘ DT Isaac Sopoaga and a sixth-round draft pick in exchange for a fifth-round pick for his services.
The 10-year veteran was likely dealt to the Patriots because of his under performance after signing to a three-year, $11 million contract this past offseason. The Patriots will be on the hook for the majority of the money owed to him as a result of the trade.
On the Patriots’ side, the loss of Vince Wilfork earlier this season to an Achilles tear was starting to show in run defense. Also, Tommy Kelly has been out with a knee injury, as well, causing their top-two defensive tackles to be on the shelf. Making this trade gives the team a veteran presence along their defensive line who has been a decent player throughout his career.
Speaking of Kelly, you have to figure that this is very bad news for him. After suffering a knee injury in Week 5, he has yet to even practice, let alone play in a game. It was looking more and more likely that he was not going to come back as the weeks progressed. Now, with the addition of Sopoaga, that possibility is looking like a reality. It is fair to wonder whether Kelly’s days in New England have come to an end as a result of this move.
A scenario where Sopoaga is placed into the starting DT position on day one is not out of the question. However, if the team chooses to ease him into the defensive scheme slowly, they will still have youngsters Chris Jones and Joe Vellano to use however they see fit in the meantime.
Either way, this move has virtually no downside as the team gave up next to nothing to get him. If he works out, a major hole on the defensive line in defending the run will have been fixed. If not, the Patriots can cut their losses and move on while only investing a fifth-round pick and some money in him.