Could New England Patriots-Detroit Lions preseason game help set up future trade?

August 26, 2017

The Detroit Lions host the New Enfland Patriots in what might end up being just another preseason contest, even if it’s the third game for both teams — often a tuneup for the starting units on both sides.

But the game could be an interesing precursor to something else. Could the game itself help set up a trade between the two clubs?

The Lions hired Bob Quinn as their general manager in January 2016 after working his way up the personnel chain in New England, arriving the same year as Bill Belichick in 2000. Quinn brought on former Patriots scout Kyle O’Brien to his staff in Detroit, and there clearly is a good working relationship between the two teams.

Since taking over the Lions job, Quinn has traded with his old boss three times. The Patriots sent LB Jon Bostic to Detroit in the 2016 offseason, and the Lions shipped LB Kyle Van Noy to New England in a swap of late 2017 selections during last season. They completed the trifecta with a draft weekend trade, with Detroit moving down from No. 85 overall to New England’s No. 96 spot, adding pick No. 124 in the process.

All relatively minor deals, sure. But it clearly demonstrates a pattern and a level of comfort between Belichick and Quinn. Belichick has made more than 125 trades in his tenure as Patriots head coach, and he often shops on familiar streets. Could we see a trade between the Lions and Patriots happen following this game as cutdown day nears?

It’s something to keep an eye on. A report from NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero surfaced early Fridar morning that the Patriots have considered moving DE Kony Ealy, whom they acquired this offseason. Off to a slow start, Ealy has rebounded but might not be a good fit long term in New England as his contract is set to expire after this season. The Lions, it just so happens, are thin on the defensive line.

Quinn has earned a reputation of bringing in so-called “reclamation projects” as acquisitions, so a player such as Ealy or DL Geneo Grissom — whom Belichick recently talked up to the media — could be a possibility. The Lions also are beat up at tight end, so a player such as James O’Shaughnessy (another offseason Patriots acquisition) or Matt Lengel could interest them.

What do the Patriots need? Well, it’s interesting that the Ealy rumors came out because the D-line feels a bit thin to us. Another area of need could be on special teams if the team is forced to cut RB Brandon Bolden or be without WR Matthew Slater early in the season. LB Steve Longa has opened eyes on the coverage units but might be hurt in a numbers game.

If the two teams do make a deal, it might not be a major one. But keep an eye out for the possibility of a swap in the days that follow. After all, if you’re going to evaluate a player you’re considering for your roster, it’s nice to see him actually face players on your roster.

Plus, we know how deeply the ties run on these two teams.

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