Should Patriots pursue this pass rusher at NFL trade deadline? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots have many, many needs to address before the Nov. 3 NFL trade deadline.
Several areas of the roster in need of an upgrade are on offense, including wide receiver and tight end. The Patriots don't have a legitimate deep threat in the passing attack, and the most reliable possession receiver on the team, Julian Edelman, doesn't look 100 percent healthy. New England's six receptions among tight ends are the lowest of any team in the league.
There are needs on the Patriots defense, too. This defense lacks quality pass rushers. The Patriots are one of seven teams with fewer than 10 sacks on the season, and their inability to consistently put pressure on the quarterback puts too much pressure on the secondary to be excellent in coverage.
One player worth pursuing at the trade deadline to improve the pass rush is Washington Football Team defensive end Ryan Kerrigan.
Here's what NBC Sports' Peter King wrote about Kerrigan in Monday's FMIA column:
"Best player/best value who I’d pursue if I were the pass-rush-needy Seahawks or Niners or Patriots: Washington outside ’backer Ryan Kerrigan, due $6.8 million for the last 10 weeks of his contract, averages 9.9 sacks a year in his career, always available (four games missed due to injury in 10 seasons), great team guy. A perfect stretch-run add for a contender."
Kerrigan is having a strong first half of the 2020 season with four sacks through seven games. Chase Winovich leads the Patriots with 2.5 sacks, but the 2019 third-round pick has failed to make a real impact over the last two weeks.
The Patriots lost a lot of their 2019 pass rush in the offseason. The team's two sack leaders from last season, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, both left in free agency. Linebacker Dont'a Hightower opted out of the season due to COVID-19, and defensive tackle Danny Shelton departed as a free agent.
New England selected Michigan linebacker Josh Uche in the second round and Alabama linebacker Anfernee Jennings in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Neither player has made a meaningful contribution as a rookie, and Uche has yet to make his pro debut.
You could argue that it doesn't make sense for New England to give up valuable draft picks to acquire veterans at the trade deadline when the team is 2-4 and sitting in third place in the AFC East.
But if the Patriots are determined to make the playoffs this season, Kerrigan is a logical trade target for them to pursue.