Friday Patriots Notebook 3/16: Pats Make a Trade, Other Players Visiting

Ian Logue
March 16, 2018 at 8:59 am ET

Another week in the books.  With the first round of free agency starting to settle down, the Patriots appear to now be making moves to improve their roster, including one notable one from Thursday.

Patriots Acquire McCourty’s Brother – Devin McCourty has more than made it clear that the idea of playing with his brother in the NFL is something he’s hoped for and on Thursday, he finally got his wish.

According to published reports, the New England made a trade with Cleveland to bring Jason McCourty to the Patriots, fulfilling what Jason said would be a “dream come true” last offseason before agreeing to a 2-year deal in Cleveland.  At the time he felt the Patriots had interest but the personnel situation in New England didn’t quite work, so the opportunity wasn’t there.

“I think there was definitely mutual interest,” McCourty said at the time via NFL.com. “Me and Devin have never hid the fact that us playing together would be a dream come true. My mom kind of has hinted at that since we both got into the league. She knows it would be a lot easier only having to travel to one city during the season.

“I think there was definitely mutual interest, but to be honest, the Patriots are kind of set at cornerback. They have a lot of talent in that room. There really wasn’t room for me. Me and Dev talked about that and that’s just the way of the league. I’m excited about the opportunity I have in Cleveland to work with those guys.”

The last time the two got to play together was in college at Rutgers.  They were only on the field together for two seasons, with Devin redshirting, yet he ended up being the higher of the two draft picks one year after Jason made it to the NFL ahead of him.  Jason started his career with Tennessee, who took him in the sixth-round in 2010, while Devin was selected in the first-round in 2011.

It’s been an amazing journey for both players and the opportunity to finally play together in the NFL should be fun to watch.  With a secondary that now has a need, adding Jason certainly provides them with a veteran presence and playing out there with Devin certainly means chemistry shouldn’t be an issue.

The other positive will be the fact that should Jason settle in and earn a role, their mother will only have one stadium she’ll need to attend next season, which should be pretty special given how close they each are.

It’s ironic that when Devin was a free agent, Jason did all he could to recruit him to the Titans before he ultimately decided to remain in New England.  Now they’re finally together, which should be one of the more enjoyable storylines we’ll be able to follow should they experience success together next season.

Patriots to Host RB Hill – While the Patriots were able to extend Rex Burkhead, that doesn’t appear to be stopping them from trying to stock up on some additional talent at that position.

According to ESPN’s field Yates, free agent Jeremy Hill is set to visit Foxboro on Friday, with the Patriots hosting the Bengals running back as they continue looking to build their 2018 roster.

Hill is coming off of a rough season in Cincinnati, suffering an ankle injury in week 7 that sidelined him for the year after he ended up on injured reserve.  Prior to that in 2016, he finished with 222 attempts for 839 yards and nine touchdowns, including one that went for 74-yards.  He also caught 21 passes for 174 yards.

His best season came in his rookie year where he rushed for 1,124-yards and nine touchdowns, including one he broke off for 85-yards.  As a result, he’s got some athleticism and he’s somewhat of a dual threat, which may be why the Patriots are looking at him as they try and make sure they’ve got someone who can potentially make up for Dion Lewis’ loss of production after he signed with the Titans.

TE Ebron “Potentially” to Meet With the Patriots – We all know how much Bill Belichick loves having talented tight ends on his roster and according to Adam Schefter, the Patriots could have one visiting soon.

Schefter reports that after visiting Carolina on Friday and Indianapolis on Sunday, New England could “potentially” be former Lions TE Eric Ebron’s next stop.

Ebron has already played on the field at Gillette Stadium, having faced New England in his rookie season where he caught 2 passes on 7 targets for 23-yards in a 34-9 loss to the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.  One of those receptions was notable, albeit it didn’t quite work out in the end for Detroit.  Trailing 27-9, Ebron made a 17-yard grab on fourth-down to keep the driving going but unfortunately for the Lions, the drive eventually stalled at the Patriots 25 and two possessions later, LeGarrette Blount added another touchdown.

Ebron is a former first-round pick by the Lions but never really met the expectations in Detroit.  His best year came in his third season after Ebron caught 61 passes for 711 yards along with a touchdown.

Last season he caught 53 passes for 574 yards and four touchdowns.

Howard Getting Interest from Patriots – Now that Nate Solder is heading to the Giants, New England is in need of another player and Ian Rapoport reports that they’ve got a player they may be interested in.

According to Rapoport, former Ravens offensive tackle Austin Howard is a player that is “drawing considerable interest” by the Patriots.

Howard is considered in Baltimore as being one of their more dependable offensive linemen and certainly fits the mold of the type of player the Patriots tend to like.   He’s been a right tackle for the majority of his eight-year career, which would give them some stability on the right side should Marcus Cannon move over to left tackle.

Woodhead getting interest? – When Danny Woodhead left in free agency to San Diego in 2013, it was a move that stung a bit given his effectiveness in the offense and his role on third down.

At the time, Shane Vereen was starting to be utilized more and it left Woodhead as the odd man out as the Patriots made the decision to let him depart to the Chargers.

Now, here we are years later and it sounds like a reunion might be a possibility.  According to the NFL Network, the Patriots have been in contact with the 33-year old running back, who spent last season with the Ravens.

He’s had a tough time with injuries over the past two seasons, playing in just 10 games over that span.  The Ravens released him two days ago and given the Patriots current running back situation, there’s certainly room on the depth chart to give him another opportunity.

New England spent a lot of time last season managing each player’s workload, which might be something that could even potentially help Woodhead become a productive player again if he can prove that he’s still got something left.  We’ll see if he gets the opportunity.

Hope everyone has a good weekend, and we’ll see you on Monday.



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