For the second time in a matter of days, the New England Patriots have bolstered their roster with a significant trade. After acquiring Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts earlier in the week, the Pats acquired defensive end Kony Ealy from the Carolina Panthers on Friday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. As part of the deal, the Pats dealt their second-round pick in this spring’s draft (#64 overall) for a Panthers third-round selection (#72 overall).
New England Patriots Trade For Kony Ealy
The 25-year-old Ealy recorded five sacks for the Panthers in 2016, matching his career high. All told, the former Missouri Tiger has registered fourteen sacks in his three-year career. Ealy has proven to be a durable, well-rounded defender in his time in Carolina. He suited up for 47 of a possible 48 regular season games with the Panthers. In addition to his work getting after the opposing quarterback, Ealy has forced six fumbles, recovered two others, and even intercepted a pass.
The 6’4,” 275-pound Ealy figures to start opposite Trey Flowers at defensive end for New England, giving the Pats some formidable size at the position. The acquisition of Ealy provides a needed youthful reinforcement to the team’s pass rush, helping to account for a couple of departures. Chris Long has already stated that he will not be returning to the team in 2017 and Jabaal Sheard jettisoned the Pats, signing with the Colts on Friday. Additionally, longtime defensive end Rob Ninkovich is coming off an underwhelming season as a 32-year-old, and is ticketed for part-time duty, at best, in 2017.
Ealy has one year remaining on his rookie contract. The former second-round draft pick will account for just under $904,000 of cap space this season. If Ealy continues to demonstrate an ability to disrupt opposing offenses in a variety of ways, he will be a tremendous value added for the reigning Super Bowl champions.