The Patriots trade of star linebacker Jamie Collins was the turning point to their defense. Collins, who was prone to freelancing and missing his assignments, was headed to the Cleveland Browns for a conditional third-round pick, while the Patriots unified inside their locker room.
The trade of Collins -- one of their most athletic players -- was mostly kept under wraps. But they did plenty of due diligence and shopping beforehand.
The two juiciest: The Patriots asked for frustrated receiver DeAndre Hopkins in a potential trade for Collins -- offensive building block in need of an extension for defensive building block in need of an extension. That was a non-starter for the Texans, even with Hopkins battling uneven quarterback play.
The other offer the Patriots spent weeks researching: Veteran cornerback Johnathan Joseph for Collins. New England loves him. Though intriguing, Joseph is so valuable to Houston that the team would not part with him.
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