The Patriots didn’t make a major splash before the NFL trade deadline, but they did acquire a proven player in Isaiah Ford who should have a chance to contribute right away.
Ford, a 24-year-old wide receiver out of Virginia Tech, was a seventh-round selection by the Miami Dolphins in 2017 and has played there ever since. According to the NFL’s transaction wire, the Patriots are giving up a conditional sixth-round pick in the 2022 draft in return.
The 6-foot-2, 201-pound Ford has been Miami’s primary slot receiver throughout the season, and he has 18 catches for 184 yards this year.
Here are five things to know about Ford, from his expected role with the team to his past endeavors.
He has a chance to emerge as a key contributor right away.
With Julian Edelman sidelined, and the Patriots extremely limited at wide receiver, the consensus is that Ford will likely see the field soon and could be heavily involved in the passing game.
He’s played in 16 career games and has 41 receptions for 428 yards. After spending his rookie season on injured reserve, he split his time between the practice squad and the 53-man roster in 2018 and 2019.
A rare intra-division trade: Dolphins are trading WR Isaiah Ford to the New England Patriots, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 3, 2020
Ford had seven catches for 54 yards when the Dolphins beat the Patriots at the end of the 2019 season. ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, who pointed out that this is the first trade between the Patriots and Dolphins since Miami sent Wes Welker to New England in 2007, said Ford “should provide experience for a depleted Patriots receiver group.”
Wolfe added that Ford has the versatility to play both outside and slot receiver as needed. He noted that against the Buffalo Bills last week, all four of the Patriots’ available wide receivers – Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Damiere Byrd, and Isaiah Zuber entered the league as undrafted free agents.
He’s in a unique situation where going from Miami to New England might actually hurt his chances of contending.
For the past 20 years, going from the Dolphins to the Patriots would mean a player’s chances of contending for a Super Bowl would increase exponentially.
Now, of course, Ford’s situation is a bit more layered, as the Dolphins (4-3) have won three in a row and look like a possible playoff team. The Patriots (2-5), meanwhile, have lost four straight and are stumbling as of late.
The flip side is that Ford gets the opportunity to play for head coach Bill Belichick and prove himself for a storied franchise. He also has a prime opportunity to make some money if he can establish himself as a go-to target in the coming weeks.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano, who broke down the biggest winners and losers of a largely slow trade deadline, called Ford’s situation a toss-up.
“Crazy times we live in, when getting traded from the Dolphins to the Patriots might be a downgrade,” Graziano wrote.
He’s gotten some great endorsements already.
Patriots running back and special teamer Brandon Bolden has already given his stamp of approval.
Bolden, who played with the Dolphins in 2018, said his former locker mate Ford is a “great guy.”
Great guy and former locker mate https://t.co/6hmkCjQ8vz
— Brandon Bolden (@BB_HulkSmash) November 3, 2020
Joe Schad, who covers the Dolphins for the Palm Beach Post, called Ford “one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve met in the NFL.”
“And he has always deserved a shot to play because of how hard he works and prepares,” Schad wrote.
Isaiah Ford is one of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve met in the NFL. And he has always deserved a shot to play because of how hard he works and prepares. Best of luck, @IAF_1
— Joe Schad (@schadjoe) November 3, 2020
Evan Lazar, who covers the Patriots for CLNS Media, said one attribute that stands out most about Ford from watching tape is his ability to run through contact.
“He’s at least a little bit more physical in the catch point than maybe some of the other guys they have,” Lazar said.
— Patriots on CLNS (@PatriotsCLNS) November 3, 2020
He averaged 37 points per game as a high school basketball player and almost played for Rick Pitino.
Schad wrote a feature in 2018 on Ford’s journey as a basketball player, detailing how former Duke star Grayson Allen nearly convinced him to transfer to his rival Providence School.
“My mom wouldn’t let me,” Ford said, according to Schad.
Ford initially wasn’t as keen on football as he is now. He was a member of a state championship squad at Trinity Christian Academy in Jacksonville, Florida, as a freshman, but he wasn’t involved as a backup quarterback or wide receiver after that.
He said he didn’t feel part of the team, and it left him wanting more. Eventually, he grew to love football, but basketball was still a major passion. Ford decided to play both sports at Louisville, for Rick Pitino and Charlie Strong, but when Strong went to Texas, Ford changed his commitment to Virginia Tech.
Schad asked him if he ever thinks about what would have happened if he had played for Pitino at Louisville.
“Sometimes,” Ford said in 2018. “My Dad would joke around all the time and say how he never knows how the Lord is going to bless me. He thinks I can still go out there and play. Sometimes I do sit there and wonder what if. But at the same time, I love the position I’m in. The opportunity that I have.”
He recently launched a scholarship fund called ‘Be the Change’ that goes toward funding higher education.
In July, Ford spearheaded an initiative called “Be the Change” that provides scholarships for Black student-athletes from Westside High School in Jacksonville to pursue higher education.
Students must meet specified criteria and write paper answering a question Ford provides before he chooses a winner. He encourages everyone to donate on the GoFundMe page, which has currently amassed over $14,000.
Dolphins Wide Receiver Isaiah Ford (@IAF_1) launched a scholarship fund last month. 100% of the proceeds raised by the ‘Be the Change’ scholarship go towards funding higher education of a student-athlete in Ford’s hometown of Jacksonville.https://t.co/nZndcGifQt
— Travis Wingfield (@WingfieldNFL) July 9, 2020
“My parents instilled this into me at an early age – it’s not about what you say, it’s what you do,” Ford said. “That’s been reiterated to me throughout my life in everything I’ve done, whether it’s being a good person or in my profession. I want to be able to say that I tried to help my community or I tried to make a difference.”
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