Hunting for deals: Malcom Brown would be a good fit for Lions, Patricia

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

We're reaching out to league contacts, monitoring press reports, reviewing film and salary-cap situations in an effort to see if there are any trades out there for the Patriots to make the 2018 team better and/or gain future assets for players who could be the odd-men out in terms of depth.

New England is always on the lookout for smart trades, and often turn to trade partners that they trust and have a history with — especially if they're in the other conference, as Belichick laid out on Wednesday.

"There’s no question it’s always easier to talk to a team you’re not in direct competition with, either that’s not on your schedule, certainly not in your division. But, if they’re not on your schedule or if they’re not in your conference, that makes it a lot easier," he said. "Trades are theoretically maneuvers that will help both teams. When two teams make a trade, both teams think that they’re improving. That’s why they make it, right? So, if you can find a trade partner and you’re helping your team, then that’s usually a good thing."

They also like to look at teams that have changed coaches and/or schemes. Often, players brought in by the previous regime fall out of favor (for whatever reason: money, attitude, physical attributes) or they are no longer a fit for the new scheme.

With the Matt Patricia going from defensive coordinator of the Patriots to head coach of the Lions — and with Detroit general manager Bob Quinn having Patriots roots — the Lions would be a natural trade partner.

We'll look at whether the Lions have any spots that could be filled by Patriots players, and if the Lions have any players that might interest New England.

And there's one big area of synergy that jumps out.