With the Patriotsí linebacker corps afflicted by knee injuries to Jerod Mayo (out for season) and Dontía Hightower (two games missed), the team acquired linebacker Akeem Ayers from the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a sixth-round pick.
The deal marks the third straight year that Bill Belichick has dealt for a player near the NFL trade deadline. Looking back at the 2012 and 2013 seasons, Patriots fans have seen both sides of the coin: one becoming a coup for the Pats, the other proving to be a flop.
In 2012, the Patriots were coming off an appearance in Super Bowl XLVI and looking to get back there. The season didnít start so well for the Pats, as they lost two of their first three games to fall under .500 for the first time at any point in a season since 2003.
The Pats righted the ship, and were 5-3 going into their Week 9 bye, but they were lacking in the secondary. The Patriots made a move to fix that hole on Nov. 1, acquiring cornerback Aqib Talib from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in exchange for a fourth-round pick.
Talib, in the middle of a four-game suspension for a violation of the NFLís substance abuse policy, had played four games for the Bucs that season with 21 combined tackles and one interception. Despite his off-field troubles, Belichick was willing to take a risk with the highly-talented corner.
That move paid off. Once Talib joined the Patriots for their Week 11 matchup with the Colts, he had an interception return for a touchdown in his first game. Overall, he would completely change the Pats secondary and defense as a whole.
Talibís presence in the Patriots secondary no longer made them an easy team to pass against, and his importance was truly shown when he was forced from the lineup with an injury in the AFC Championship Game against Baltimore. With Talib out, Joe Flacco and the Ravens passing attack looked like an entirely different team.
The Patriots re-signed Talib for 2013, and he had another strong season, being named to the Pro Bowl before leaving after the year to sign a six-year, $57 million contract with the Denver Broncos.
In 2013, however, the Patriots deadline deal didnít exactly go as hoped when the trade was announced.
After five-time Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork was lost for the year in Week 4 with a torn Achilles and Tommy Kelly went down with a knee injury, the Patriots attempted to get some defensive tackle help from outside the organization, and they found a willing trade partner in the Philadelphia Eagles, who shipped Isaac Sopoaga to New England for a fifth-round draft pick.
Sopoaga, who had played 40 percent of the snaps for the Eagles before the trade, was expected to help fill the gap up the middle that had allowed teams to rush for over 156 yards per game after Wilforkís injury.
That trade ended up being a bust, as Sopoaga proved to be ineffective in six games with the Pats, where he recorded just two combined tackles and one sack. He was inactive for the final two games of the season and both of the team's playoff games, as the Patriots went with rookies Chris Jones and Joe Vellano for the remainder of the season.
Sopoaga was released by the Patriots in March. He signed with the Arizona Cardinals on Aug. 20 and played in one preseason game, but was cut before the year and is currently a free agent.
So it remains to be seen what kind of effect Ayers can have on the Patriots, but as the Patriots have seen first hand over the past two years, deadline deals can be hit or miss.