November: Ben-Akiva’s Boards

Erez Ben-Akiva, Website Manager

In Bill we trust…or so we thought…? Not even a full 24 hours after the Patriots’ strong win over the Buffalo Bills, shocking news surfaced that stud linebacker Jamie Collins was traded to the Cleveland Browns for a compensatory third-round draft pick. Patriots head coach and general manager Bill Belichick has the rightful reputation of being not only an on-field genius, but also gifted in the front office. However, this trade is questionable at best. Yes, it is true that this is Collins’ final year in his contract, and he is looking to make a boatload of cash this upcoming offseason, which the Patriots may not be able to satisfy due to limited funds. At the same time, however, the whole point of trading Chandler Jones this past March was to clear up this valuable space for Collins. Of course Belichick also has to worry about possibly re-signing cornerback Malcolm Butler and linebacker Dont’a Hightower, and even tight end Martellus Bennett for 2017 and beyond, but Collins is arguably the most talented of the three (and less injury-prone than his fellow linebacker Hightower). One might also contend that, like the Jones trade, the Patriots are simply trying to get value out of Collins before he walks as a free agent. But, a compensatory third-round pick for a top five linebacker seems incredibly lopsided in favor of the Browns.
The Patriots have the best shot out of any team in the league at winning the Super Bowl this season. It makes sense that the future of the team is always in mind, but is it really worth it to noticeably weaken this year’s team for a draft pick in the 60-70 range? Keep in mind, had Collins signed with a different team, the Patriots would likely be awarded with a compensatory third-round pick anyways in 2018 (compensatory picks are awarded to teams who lose more quality free agents in an offseason than they gain, with the round placement of these picks determined mainly by salary and playing time). Belichick’s trades are usually works of art, but if this move does not develop into something more, it is a bad trade, plain and simple.