There’s one bold deadline move the Patriots can make, but we know they won’t


There is nothing to salvage this season, and yet the Patriots are unlikely to trade Mac Jones.

Mac Jones
Patriots quarterback Mac Jones Barry Chin/The Boston Globe
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Mac isn’t going to Minnesota. 

But it probably shouldn’t be received as an outlandish, “click-baity” idea. 

With Sunday’s 31-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins in the rear-view mirror, the 2-6 New England Patriots now have about a two percent chance, which seems high, to make the postseason with nine games remaining. They share the same odds as the Chicago Bears, who lost to the Chargers Sunday night. 

The only three NFL teams in worse situations are the 2-6 New York Giants (one percent) and the one-win Cardinals and Panthers (less than one percent, each).

The Patriots are in the same class as the laughable Chicago Bears and pathetic Carolina Panthers. 

This is reality. There’s really no difference. 

If last weekend’s win over Buffalo suggested that this edition of the Patriots might have some fire left in what was amounting to a lost season, then the hope for a resurgent second half went up in a cloud of inferiority Sunday afternoon in Miami. Mac Jones’s H.O.R.S.E. shot to Jaylen Ramsey didn’t help. Losing Kendrick Bourne for the season didn’t help, and having the game officiated by a collection of incompetent referees didn’t help matters either.  

But the Patriots didn’t lose Sunday based on X’s and O’s. They just weren’t good enough. 

They aren’t good enough. 

The rebuilding should begin prior to Tuesday’s NFL trading deadline, but the cooks in the kitchen aren’t going to prioritize a sell mode that might have an effect on the second half of the season and, more importantly, their jobs. What is the impetus for Bill Belichick to give Minnesota a quarterback now that Kirk Cousins is done for the year after tearing his Achilles? Instead of stitching together 2-3 more wins this season and saving some face, Belichick is really going to turn things over to Bailey Zappe and let it rip for a tank? And is that really cause for celebration, wrangling a second-round pick in exchange for your first-round quarterback selection? (I suppose that depends on how much you’ve watched Mac Jones this season.) 

If you’re looking for slivers of optimism, the Celtics are at home Wednesday night. The small window you had for any remaining this season as far as the Patriots are concerned just closed Sunday afternoon. Free agents to-be Josh Uche, Trent Brown, Hunter Henry, Michael Onwenu, and Mike Gesicki should all be available for reasonable draft picks. Kyle Dugger is one of the handful of players the Patriots should want to keep, but with no contract offered to this point, that ship has sort of sailed. Obviously, Bourne is no longer a trade chip. Ju Ju Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker never really were. 

The only, really, bold move to make at the deadline, one that signifies to the fan base that ownership understands the need for drastic change in the organization, is to deal Jones to Minnesota. Of course, that would leave the Patriots without a (professional-level) quarterback heading into a schedule featuring a host of winnable games. Even for this team. 

Yes, “winnable.” Bill just got No. 300. You think he’s going to delay the run at Don Shula another season for the good of the franchise? That’s awfully optimistic. 

These are your New England Patriots, stuck in a recurring purgatory where it’s going to take years to dig out. The Patriots need talent everywhere, at every position. Yet, Belichick is going to coach this team well enough to get it to 8-9, and everybody will just sort of forget that month-long period. Maybe they’ll get another pick at No. 15. Those work out well. 

This Patriots team may be bad enough on its own to not make any tanking a concern. The Commanders, Colts, and Broncos may look like equals in the standings, but so did the Saints and Raiders, remember? 

The NFL trading deadline is always hyped for more than it delivers. Every now and then you have a Christian McCaffrey or an Aqib Talib that breaks the monotony. Most years it passes without a single transaction of any note. 

That is most likely how the Patriots will approach it, instead of trying to salvage what they can. 

Sunday confirmed there is nothing to salvage this season. The franchise needs a re-boot. 

But with Belichick now only 16 wins behind Shula, the long-term health of the product is going to seemingly take a backseat to the coach. That’s the only reason why the Patriots won’t sell. 

It’s one of the many reasons why they should. 

For that is also the reality, one that’s a lot harder to swallow than the current state of things on the field. The team stinks, and it seems like nobody in Foxborough wants to acknowledge it. 

Their actions (or lack thereof) will speak for themselves by Tuesday afternoon.