Last week in a surprise move, Demaryius Thomas was traded to the New York Jets for a 2021 sixth-round draft pick, marking the first time head coach Bill Belichick has ever made a trade with the Jets in his 20-year stretch with the Patriots.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Belichick elaborated on his decision to move Thomas to a divisional rival.
“I would say, a certain period of time when there’s no way this transaction would’ve happened,” said Belichick. “But during other periods of time – yeah, again, we don’t want to help the Jets, they don’t want to help us. We’re in the same division, so they’re not the easiest trades to make but, you know, if the trade is good for both teams and ultimately what we’re trying to do is improve our team. We have 14 other games to play besides the game against the Jets, so do we want to help them, do they want to help us? No and no, but in the end, if it helps us in the other 14 games and helps our team, then it’s something that’s worth considering.”
Belichick also reflected on other in-division trades made in the past, and how it isn’t necessarily that uncommon.
“Yeah, look, we’ll try to help our team in any way we can,” he said. “Not saying that a trade within the division you don’t have to analyze a little bit more closely, but we’ve done it before certainly with Miami and with a player like [Wes] Welker or with Buffalo with a player like [Drew] Bledsoe. Those weren’t insignificant players at that time. In the end, I want to do what’s best to help our football team and I don’t want to help our opponent that much, but you have to give up something to get something and you have to look at your situation and try to do what’s best for your team.”
The Patriots decided to move Thomas after the signing of wide receiver Antonio Brown. Thomas re-injured his hamstring in his debut with the Jets Monday night, putting his return to the Gillette Stadium field in doubt. He recorded just one catch before exiting the game.