Evaluating All Factors in a Potential Michael Bennett-Mohamed Sanu Trade
With the NFL trade deadline just a couple weeks away, trade rumors have begun to swirl. One team that is naturally in the midst of the trade buzz are the New England Patriots, who are in desperate need of some offensive firepower.
One player in particular who has found himself in hypothetical trade packages is veteran defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who was suspended earlier this week for conduct detrimental because of a verbal dispute between him and his position coach Brett Bielema. Bennett's play time has decreased since the season opener, to the point where is impact and contributions to the team are insignificant.
Packaging Bennett in a trade for a talented wideout has been a potential scenario that could take place for the deadline. A very sensible trade options that has been mentioned is shipping Bennett to the Atlanta Falcons in return for veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu.
A Bennett-for-Sanu trade would benefit both the Patriots and Falcons in different ways. Sanu would provide the Patriots with a safety cushion of sorts on offense, while Bennett would try to put out a defensive dumpster fire in Atlanta.
But let's really boil this down and figure out how and why this trade could very well happen in the coming weeks...
Why does it makes sense for the Patriots?
First off, this trade makes sense for New England because they are in desperate need of another reliable veteran receiver to provide depth and make plays for Tom Brady.
Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry have all suffered some form of injuries and ailments this season. Gordon looks like he may even miss this Monday's game against the Jets. The Patriots offense needs another body that can provide more impact and experience than youngsters Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski.
Mohamed Sanu would provide both that impact and experience, along with reliability and durability for the most part.
Sanu has only had one injury that extended beyond a one-game absence, which came in his rookie year, where he missed the season due to a foot fracture.
Adding Sanu would certainly make sense for a healthy or non-healthy Patriots team. A healthy receiver depth chart would put him as the third or fourth guy in New England's offense, allowing offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to use several different receiver groups. They could possibly stack Edelman, Gordon, Sanu, Dorsett, and Harry out on the field, all at the same time.
A lineup like that would be asking a team's fourth and fifth best cover guys to go and cover Harry or Dorsett, who both are absolutely capable of playing as another team's starting receiver.
Adding Sanu and having Harry come off IR in Week 9 would open up a whole realm of matchup possibilities for McDaniels and the offense.
Besides the matchups and the injuries, it would also add another proven receiver to the offense and allow the Patriots to run three receivers through three levels of a defense.
Examples like this by ESPN's Matt Bowen should how Sanu would fit the Patriots' offense perfectly. Edelman would be active in the short game, Sanu would run an intermediate route, both Watson and Gordon could be downfield threats, while James White or Sony Michel would be the check-down options in the flat.
The intermediate route tree is something that Sanu specializes in and can run to a high level. Some of his best plays of the season last year were touchdowns off intermediate routes, where he got some space and ran a lot after the catch to reach the endzone.
Sanu would run a lot of the same routes Chris Hogan ran during his tenure with the Patriots, but would probably be in a much better position to succeed than Hogan, due to Sanu ideally drawing less coverage because of the other receiver talent on the field. This all assumes the entire receiving core stays healthy for the rest of the year, which might not be the safest bet. If someone were to go down, Sanu would have the capability to play as the second guy in this offense, thought nothing more than that.
Why would the Falcons make the trade?
According to reports over the offseason, the Falcons have been shopping Mohamed Sanu for a little while and clearly believe that Calvin Ridley is ready to be Altanta's No. 2 receiver. In fact, according to Michael Lombardi on the Pat McAfee Show, the Patriots and Falcons were this close to making Sanu pack his bags for Foxborough, but the Falcons backed out before it happened.
Meanwhile, besides being willing to deal Sanu, Atlanta desperately needs defensive help. This is where Bennett could come into play.
Vic Beasley is not cutting it for them and has found himself on the trade block. In hopes that they can trade the young, talented pass rushed before the trade deadline.
The Falcons and Dolphins pass rush units are tied for generating the league's least amount of sacks. Atlanta only has five sacks to their name through six games and hasn't recorded a sack in three games, according to ESPN.
Michael Bennett currently has two and a half sacks on the year, which equals half of what the entire Falcons defense has produced in the sack category.With more snaps on a defensive line that has (frankly) nothing to lose right now, Michael Bennett can thrive in Atlanta and they can at least take a positive step in the right direction to turning the ship around.
Since both players cap hits land in the $7 million area this year, both teams could fit each player under their current cap situation and plug in their new toy in without much financial maneuvering.