According to a Wednesday report by Tom Curran on CSNNE.com, the team itself at least pondered the idea of trading for the Cardinals stud pass-catcher last offseason.
Citing a “very well-placed" source, the CSNNE.com report stated that “last offseason the Patriots were indeed interested in acquiring Fitzgerald and sent out feelers to gauge the feasibility.”
Not long after that report surfaced on the web/Twitter, NFL Network/NFL.com reporter Ian Rapoport (@rapsheet) tweeted that this was the “First the Cards have heard of this.”
Curran (@tomecurran) himself responded to that tweet saying, “Right. Which is why I didn’t indicate it got as far as talks.”
If New England didn’t send out feelers to the Cardinals with an eye on trading for Fitzgerald – who had 82 catches for 954 yards with 10 touchdowns this season in Arizona – it’s unclear where those feelers were directed.
It’s also interesting that this report comes on the heels of critical comments via Twitter (extended via the Sulia service) on Monday from former Bears GM Jerry Angelo questioning Bill Belichick’s construction of his roster of offensive weapons last season. Angelo, who worked with Belichick with the Giants and was a willing trade partner with New England during his time in Chicago, didn’t think the Patriots responded well to letting Wes Welker walk and the issues at tight end in a successful manner last spring/summer.
“New England’s antidote was to protect Brady, making offensive line the strength of their team, along with having a stable of quality running backs. A good philosophy for winning a division, not so for winning the AFC championship,” Angelo wrote.
“So when you look at New England, the strengths of their offense was their line and running backs. When you break down Denver, it was their tight end and receivers.
“I believe, if you don’t have an elite QB, you build your offense the way New England did, from the inside out. Protect the quarterback with a good offensive line and run the ball. A large part of your passing game is going to be based off run action. On the other hand, if you have a quarterback who sets the standard at his position, you built it around him from the outside in, meaning with top-notch receivers.
“This is where New England calculated wrong. Brady is an elite quarterback, and they handcuffed him with talented but unproven receivers, except for
“Their offense was devoid of the most critical parts needed for their quarterback to play to his ceiling: Established, go-to guys at tight end and receiver. You can argue they had Gronkowski coming back, but he was coming off his second back surgery, as well as have having surgery on his wrist. You couldn't count on him. He’s a chandelier. Whatever you get out of him is ‘gravy’, because of his medical history."
According to CSNNE, though, the Patriots may have had an eye on adding a major weapon to the attack last offseason that clearly would have dramatically altered the team’s passing game. Exactly how serious a thought/plan that was is anybody’s guess. And with the Cardinals having won 10 games in a tough division this fall, and Fitzgerald carrying an $18 million cap number for 2014, it would seem less likely that the future Hall of Famer receiver would be available via trade this time around, if he ever actually was in the first place.
Do you think the Patriots actually looked into trading for Fitzgerald last offseason? Do you think there is a chance the star receiver could end up in a New England uniform? What would you give up for the aging pass-catching playmaker? Let us know with a comment below!