When the New England Patriots traded Sony Michel to the Buffalo Bills on Tuesday, it created the biggest domino effect in the history of the NFL free agency period. The Patriots ended up sending back a first-round pick to the Bills in exchange for quarterback Josh Allen, who was selected No. 7 overall in the 2018 draft.
On Wednesday, the New England Patriots made what is likely to be one of the biggest trades in NFL history, sending star running back Sony Michel to the New England Patriots for the No. 32 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the team’s first pick of the first round of the draft. Many are excited about the move, for reasons both good and bad, but there are some who are nervous about what this means for the rest of the AFC East.
One of the most exciting aspects of the NFL Draft is the potential it holds for NFL teams. They can choose from a variety of players with varying levels of skill, but that doesn’t mean they can’t pick a gem. In the most recent draft, the Patriots’ front office found a gem in Sony Michel. The Georgia star was a consensus All-American and a Heisman Trophy finalist last year, and he was projected to go as high as a first round pick.
When Bill Belichick chose Sony Michel in the 2018 NFL Draft, he definitely went in an unexpected route. Spending a first-round selection on a running back didn’t make much sense at the time for someone who talks about “value” and the necessity of doing what’s best for the team.
And now that Michel is no longer a member of the New England Patriots, it’s obvious that Belichick made a mistake by passing up on a lot of potential stars in favor of a guy who hasn’t looked like he did at Georgia.
Patriots supporters should be both excited and concerned about what lies ahead for Belichick’s squad now that the team has moved on from the fourth-year back.
From New England to Los Angeles, Sony Michel travels.
Despite the fact that Belichick had the option of selecting Nick Chubb or Lamar Jackson with the final selection in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft, he chose Michel. The former SEC star had a strong first season, rushing for 931 yards and six touchdowns on a team-high 209 attempts. Most significantly, Michel rushed for 336 yards and six touchdowns during the Patriots’ three-game playoff run, which culminated in a Super Bowl 53 win against the Los Angeles Rams.
Injury has restricted the 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back to only 20 starts in the past two seasons. As a consequence, New England turned down Michel’s fifth-year option earlier this year.
The club finally let go of the hard-working but disappointing veteran on Wednesday.
The Patriots traded Michel to the Rams for a 2022 sixth-round selection and a 2023 fourth-round pick, according to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry. General manager Les Snead addressed the hole created by Cam Akers’ season-ending Achilles injury by trading for the 25-year-old back.
In Sean McVay’s offense, Michel has a great chance to revive his career. However, his durability problems may quickly resurface in Los Angeles. He did, at the very least, get a much-needed change of scenery.
Patriots supporters should be both worried and enthusiastic about the future after the trade of Michel.
Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels have a number of excellent running backs to work with in 2021, and they should help the Patriots win a lot of games. | Getty Images/John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe
The Michel deal clearly reflects poorly on Belichick as a general manager. After all, selling a previous first-round selection for pennies on the dollar isn’t a long-term winning plan. When you examine the other guys Belichick might have chosen at No. 31, Michel’s selection seems even worse, especially considering he’ll be gone in three years.
On the one hand, supporters have reason to be concerned about the future. Michel and N’Keal Harry, a 2019 first-round pick, were obviously overlooked by Belichick. He also blew it on 2014 first-round pick Dominique Easley and allowed 2015 first-round pick Malcom Brown walk away in free agency. Don’t forget about complete failures like safety Jordan Richards (second round, 2015), cornerbacks Cyrus Jones (second round, 2016), and Duke Dawson (second round, 2017). (second round, 2018).
Over the past six years, New England has squandered precious draft capital, forcing Belichick to spend so much money in free agency. The Patriots won a lot of games during that time, but they won’t be able to contend for Super Bowl crowns again until they make a significant change in the draft.
At the same time, the Michel deal should pique Belichick’s interest in the team’s future prospects. Given their depth at running back, the Patriots didn’t need him. Clearly, the coaching staff is confident in third-round pick Damien Harris, who has the physical attributes to become a formidable offensive weapon. In addition, fourth-round rookie Rhamondre Stevenson’s fast growth and second-year pro J.J. Taylor’s excellent performance should offer supporters hope for the position’s future.
Belichick may have to part ways with a few more recent draft choices who haven’t lived up to expectations after sending Michel across the country.
Don’t be shocked if Bill Belichick decides to pass on a couple more first-round selections.
The Patriots moved from having a talent-depleted squad to one that seems capable of making a genuine run at the Lombardi Trophy thanks to an unusually proactive approach in free agency.
The addition of high-paid veterans like Matthew Judon, Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, and Jonnu Smith, however, does not bode well for the team’s other players.
Will Bill Belichick eventually acknowledge that the N’Keal Harry experiment was a failure? The Patriots could trade the oft-injured receiver in the coming weeks or months, as he appears destined to play elsewhere in 2022.
Could the Patriots possibly sever relations with other members of Harry’s draft class? Joejuan Williams was the 45th overall selection, but the long-limbed defensive back has yet to find a home in New England. Chase Winovich, a third-round pick who has shown interesting promise as a pass rusher in limited play, doesn’t either.
In addition, Devin Asiasi’s future with the club remains unclear. The 2020 third-round selection obviously doesn’t have a route to a starting position with Smith and Henry committed to multi-year contracts. Will he be considered for a spot as the team’s No. 3 tight end? Or is he getting the Sony Michel treatment from Bill Belichick?
We’ll find out soon enough, with Week 1 coming quickly.
Pro Football Reference provided all statistics.
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