Belichick not afraid to deal with ex-Patriots

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham
The NFL's two biggest offseason trades were facilitated through old associates.

New England Patriots overlord Bill Belichick didn't hesitate to swing a trade with former player personnel man Scott Pioli, sending quarterback Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel to the Kansas City Chiefs in February.

The New York Jets dealt with their freshly fired coach, Eric Mangini, in the blockbuster draft-day trade that landed quarterback Mark Sanchez with the fifth overall pick. The trade reunited Mangini with three of his former players.

On Monday, Belichick bartered with another ex-Patriot on a smaller-scale swap.

Denver Broncos coach Josh McDaniels, the former Patriots offensive coordinator, knew enough about defensive lineman Le Kevin Smith to acquire him and a seventh-round draft choice for a fifth-round pick.

Belichick explained trades with coworkers-turned-opponents often are easier to make.

"It's a situation where they know the player," Belichick said at his Monday news briefing. "When you trade for somebody, you want to know what you're getting. So I'm sure that's part of it for them.

"We've been on the other end of that, too, and that's important. But I certainly have a high level of trust with both Scott and Josh."

While Belichick has made several trades, he plays no favorites. He obtained receiver Greg Lewis from Philadelphia, tight end Alex Smith from Tampa Bay and defensive end Derrick Burgess from Oakland.

"There's no real 'It's got to be this team or that team,' " Belichick said. "You just never know where those opportunities are going to be, and you never know who's going to be interested in working with you.

"So we try to keep all the doors open other than just probably one or two teams I doubt we'd be having a lot of trade talks with."

Such as the teams within in the division -- and perhaps wherever Mangini's working.