Trade analysis: Change of scenery deal

April, 27, 2013
4/27/13
4:49
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The Patriots' trade that shipped running back Jeff Demps and a seventh-round draft choice to the Buccaneers in exchange for running back LeGarrette Blount is a "change of scenery" type of deal.

From a Patriots standpoint, there was hope that Demps' world-class speed would add a dynamic element to the offense/special teams when he was signed to a three-year deal last year that included $211,000 in guaranteed money. The signing was considered a coup at the time because Demps had gone undrafted while focusing on his track career, before later deciding to play football.

But Demps injured his knee in the preseason and spent the year on season-ending injured reserve. When he decided to run track again this year, that changed the dynamic of his situation with the club.

With Demps' availability for mandatory minicamp, training camp and maybe even the early parts of the regular season potentially coming into question, it appears the Patriots made the decision to move on.

The Buccaneers, who in turn were looking to deal Blount, turned out to be a willing trade partner; general manager Mark Dominik told reporters in Tampa on Saturday that the trade was more about moving Blount than acquiring Demps. It probably helped that Bill Belichick and Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano are close friends.

The other part of this trade is some of the issues and altercations that Blount has had in his college and pro career. The Patriots had to come to a comfort level with Blount, because as Belichick often says, when you acquire a player a team is getting the complete package -- on and off the field. Perhaps the level of trust between Belichick and Schiano provided more comfort for the Patriots in striking the deal for Blount.

If Blount runs into more issues, it makes sense to think the Patriots would move on quickly. For now, however, the Patriots are showing a willingness to make a notable commitment to Blount as they inherit his $1.25 million salary for 2013 (players' salaries aren't guaranteed until the regular season). Blount is scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the season, and he's a bigger back who could help in short yardage and on the goal line.

In considering all the layers to the trade, this type of rare player-for-player deal is similar to the 2006 deal in which the Patriots traded receiver Bethel Johnson for defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan. With both players, the hope was that a change of scenery might lead to better results, but it never happened.

Maybe it will for Demps and/or Blount.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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