You don’t have to like them (I don’t) but  it’s hard not respect them. The New England Patriots win. A lot.

And to me, it is no surprise why. Since the official start of the league year on March 9th, the Patriots have made a couple of big trades. Trades like these don’t happen very often in the NFL, although we do see more of them than we did in the past. Their latest trade in which they acquired Tight End Martellus Bennett (and a 6th round pick) from the Chicago Bears for a 4th round pick isn’t even the trade that I want to talk about here. It was the trade they made before that, that is the blueprint for success in not just the NFL, but in all sports.

I am a very big believer in not losing a player of value for nothing. Take the New York YankeesNew England Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones (95) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) Thursday, Oct. 29, 2015, (AP Photo/Steven Senne) (Steven Senne) for example. They had no assurances that Robinson Cano was going to re-sign with the club and they knew what his asking price was going to be. However, rather than trade him at the deadline for a few TOP prospects, they gambled and lost in free agency with the star player. The Patriots, seeing what the market is for defensive ends acted in what seemed to be a non pre-meditated move, when they traded their young star DE Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals. Jones carries a 2016 cap hit of just under 8 million in this the final year of his rookie contract. In trading Jones, the Patriots acquired a young offensive lineman in Jonathan Cooper, who to this point has been a bit of a disappointment, but he still has the potential and filled a big need for the team. Along with Cooper came a valuable 2nd round pick. That pick is even more important when you consider that the Patriots do not currently own a 1st round pick. With the price tag the 2nd round pick has, and with Cooper’s salary, the Patriots still saved 2 million in much needed cap space. That didn’t last long though as they quickly replaced the departed Jones with Chris Long. What did Long sign for? 2 million. So they traded a good player that they were never going sign long term, for a young high potential player in an area in need, a 2nd round pick and cap space. That’s a great deal.

Every position on the field is important in the NFL. In a sport that has a salary cap and needs to to carry so many players, it is very difficult, if not impossible to have strength at every position. However, it is even more difficult when a defensive player that doesn’t  drastically change the game, is eating up 15-18 million dollars of your cap. I would much rather have 3 good players in different areas of the field, for the price of one really good player. The Patriots see this. This isn’t the first time they have done this with an upcoming free agent. I’m surprised more teams don’t follow the same blueprint.

Attention NY Jets: Trade Mohammad Wilkerson.