This linebacker could be the missing piece in New England

The New England Patriots are off to a less than ideal 1-3 start, and they have a glaring hole on the defensive side of the ball.

The team has struggled to find anyone opposite of Matthew Judon since Kyle Van Noy’s departure, and they desperately need another outside linebacker to help in blitz packages, coverage and in the run. Not to mention, Judon is an elite defender when he has his health, but due to the lack of substitutes or players to take off the pressure, he’s asked to do too much at times

And quite frankly, he isn’t at the stage of his career where he can handle heavy snap loads. Keeping Judon fresh keeps him effective.

The plan has always been for some young defender to take over opposite him. Anfernee Jennings had a great camp, and Josh Uche looked like he could be fully unlocked after showing promise early. But through four games, neither has managed to make the desired impact. If the Patriots wish to make the playoffs this year, the defense could really use a playmaker. Luckily for them, there is one disgruntled linebacker who could be available ahead of the trade deadline.

That player is none other than Roquan Smith of the Chicago Bears.

Smith has been adamant about his desire to be traded or paid what he deserves, and the Bears are in a rebuilding/retooling mode where they don’t have much to put around their young QB. Smith is the Bears’ best asset on the team, and he could demand a ransom. But as the Bears struggle through 2022 with Smith’s pending unrestricted free agency looming, they will possibly lower the price to send him to a team willing to roll the dice on him staying long-term.

Either they do this by November 1st or use a $19 million franchise tag next season on him, which would be beneficial for both sides. But Smith wouldn’t be able to be tagged again in the following season, meaning the team paid a high bill for a rental on a bottom of the barrel team and would fail to get anything in return as other teams would rather wait for his tag to expire.

The Patriots need to add some playmakers that fit the current team’s timeline. With Mac Jones on a rookie deal, it only makes sense to make these franchise-altering moves to add the next generation’s superstar to the defense with Devin McCourty and Judon both getting older.

The Patriots could wind up offering Chicago a package centering on two first-round picks (2023 and 2025) and a future second-rounder. Smith is projected to warrant a hefty contract and could be upwards of $115 million with $60 million guaranteed. It’s a lot of money for many, but for one of the league’s best tacklers and versatile weapons, it would surely be worth it, especially for a Bill Belichick-lead defense. If anyone could unlock another gear out of Smith, it would be Belichick.

The Patriots would add a 26-year-old linebacker opposite of Judon, who would take the pressure off of others in the run game and would feast on the opposite edge. As we get closer to the November 1st deadline, the price will certainly go down for picks, and the Patriots could strike a deadline deal for the superstar and start building their defense around Smith, Christian Barmore, Kyle Dugger and Jack Jones for the future.

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Story originally appeared on Patriots Wire