Days after the Colts placed Phillip Dorsett on the trade block, the ever shrewd Bill Belichick made his move, completing a deal with the new General Manager in Indianapolis, Chris Ballard. The complete trade was simply former first round pick Phillip Dorsett for second year quarterback Jacoby Brissett. Though this trade may seem minor, the effects will surely ripple throughout the league.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 1, 2017
First off, there were a few reasons for this player for player deal. The Colts franchise piece, Andrew Luck, is an elite quarterback, but obviously cannot contribute while he struggles through a multitude of health issues. He has missed nine games over the last two campaigns with a lacerated kidney and a concussion, and may miss the season opener in Los Angeles as he finalizes a recovery from a lingering arm injury. In games Luck has missed, the Colts are 4-5, compared to the 43-27 record in regular season games with Luck starting. Those four wins came with Matt Hasselbeck under center, a veteran passer who surprised many with his fill in success. After retiring, the Colts turned to Scott Tolzien in 2016, and the results were not good. With Stephen Morris and Scott Tolzien as contenders for the backup job, Indianapolis had to look for a new option as an insurance plan. On the other hand, the Patriots did not have the best injury luck either. In an exhibition matchup, Julian Edelman went down with a knee injury that looks to be season ending. Though he is joined by other stars on the offensive side of the ball, including Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, and Brandin Cooks, Edelman’s reliability proved time and time again why he is so valuable. He will be missed, though the Patriots have what it takes to get passed this hurdle.
Phillip Dorsett is faaaaast. He and Brandin Cooks both ran 4.33-second 40s at the combine.
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) September 2, 2017
Adding a receiver would help fill the hole left behind for the often slot-shamed receiver, but it is not necessarily the reason for the Patriots’ interest in wide receivers. After this season, receivers Danny Amendola and Matthew Slater are set to hit the market. The following offseason, Chris Hogan and Brandin Cooks are due for contract extensions. They will most likely not be able to retain most of these weapons, so adding a young, talented receiver is quite helpful. Dorsett is cheap as well, and we all know what the Patriots can do with players nobody else wants. From the Patriots perspective, they are giving up an extendable third string quarterback for a low risk, high reward wide receiver that can help on the field and during the offseason.
Welcome to the Pats @Dorsett_4 👀
— Patriots Militia (@PatsMilitia) September 2, 2017
Phillip Dorsett has had more than his fair share of struggles in Indy. His roster spot was far from guaranteed, and a move was close to certain. Though the numbers wouldn’t show it, Dorsett has the talent to be an effective target in the NFL. An impressive combine overshadowed his flaws, and for good reason. Dorsett is an amazing athlete, and the upside is apparent. He can play both outside and in the slot, and is already a pretty good deep threat. The Patriots are getting just another piece alongside Tom Brady, a quarterback that seems to improve every receiver he throws to. It’s a penny stock for the Patriots, and for an organization in the waning years of the greatest dynasty in league history, this deal is a good bet.
This is an insane score by Jacoby Brissett. It’s like he’s better when he doesn’t have time in pocket. Born under pressure. Molded by it. pic.twitter.com/n5UJ48eXBX
— Rich Hill (@PP_Rich_Hill) September 1, 2017
During the third week of the 2016-’17 NFL season, Patriots’ backup Jimmy Garoppolo was hurt, and with Tom Brady still wrongfully suspended, Jacoby Brissett was the next man up. Against a great Houston defense, Brissett and the Patriots won 27-0, putting the then rookie quarterback on the map. He looks to break the mold of Brady backups who can’t play when their time comes outside of New England. He is still the backup in Indianapolis, but whether or not he will step up week one or at a later date is still up for debate. From the looks of it, Brissett is a quality insurance plan for an uninsured Colts team. It fills a hole that may become paramount if Luck goes down, and moving Dorsett may have solved this potential problem.
Overall, this is a good deal for both of the teams involved. Brissett fills a much needed depth position, while Dorsett sets the Patriots receivers up well for the future, and can be used in some packages this year as well. New England gained more upside with a dynamic athlete, but the Colts were looking to move the Miami product anyway. If Brady works his magic as he seemingly always does, Dorsett can develop into a quality player in this league. The same can be said for Brissett, who has joined his second team where he can once again watch an elite quarterback in front of him. Anyway, neither front office gave up too much for a lot of upside in both young players.
Furthermore, this trade has some fantasy football implications also. For example, one issue with Colts receivers is how they play when Luck goes down. With Jacoby Brissett in town, wide out stock should not fall very far if the former first overall pick gets hurt. Dorsett on the contrary, does not have very much value at all. He may get picked up in 10-12+ team leagues, but that’s about it. He may develop into a better player, but until then, he is just an emergency starter in deeper leagues.
Going back to real football… This trade can have unspoken effects that reveal themselves later in the year also. Brissett being added to the team neutralizes a weakness for this team in the offensive line. If Luck goes down after getting pummelled once again, the Colts’ hopes won’t necessarily be drowned immediately. A quality backup can keep a team afloat for a decent amount of time, as we have seen with the Broncos a few years back, the Colts with Hasselback two seasons ago, and A.J. McCarron starting for a few exceedingly important games for the Bengals.
In addition, there is a common theme among deep playoff contenders, besides the unequivocal star talent on the roster. That is depth. For the Patriots, Dorsett brings a new level of depth to that receiving core, and he can also make an impact day one. When the Patriots attempt to win back-to-back Super Bowls, Dorsett may become the unsung hero late in a playoff run. Depth is extremely significant for quality teams, and it may make or break a team’s level of success.
Now that the Patriots traded away their third string quarterback, and the Colts traded away their third receiver, there are apparent holes at each of these positions. The Patriots do not have a third string quarterback as of now, and it will most likely stay this way unless additional under center depth is needed. With Phillip Dorsett far from Lucas Oil, a third (and slot) receiver is needed. While JoJo Natson, Bug Howard, and Kamar Aiken appeared as the contenders to fill his spot, it will look as if Aiken has one the third receiver spot, as Natson and Howard were both cut prior to the roster cutdown deadline. Kamar Aiken should be an upgrade over Dorsett, and should help bolster the Colts’ passing offense.
To close, this transaction was a fitting close to a chaotic cut day for both teams. New England filled a hole at receiver while Indianapolis found their backup quarterback. No clear “winner” is present yet, and the returns seemed balanced and good for both AFC teams. Best case scenario is that Dorsett finally pans out but Brissett does not see the field, but if he does, that he plays well enough to keep the Colts competitive. This trade may not have been made fully because of play, so its effects may range farther than just on the field. Hopefully the trade works out for New England and the Colts, as both improved their respective rosters.