Laurence Maroney trade analysis

Laurence Maroney, a 2006 first-round draft choice who never fully emerged, is getting a fresh start with the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the Patriots are counting on veterans Fred Taylor, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk to make it through the season healthy – and the continued development of BenJarvus Green-Ellis -- as Maroney represented a talented insurance policy.

The Patriots receive a 2011 fourth-round choice from the Broncos, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. In addition to Maroney, the Patriots shipped a 2011 sixth-round pick to the Broncos, according to Schefter.

Maroney was entering the final year of his contract, so this is a sign that the Patriots didn’t expect him to be back in 2011.

Maroney, who was limited by a thigh injury of late, was inactive for the team’s season-opening win. Yet even upon his return to health, he might have remained inactive as the 34-year-old Taylor had wrestled the No. 1 spot on the depth chart away from him.

Also, Morris had leapfrogged Maroney because of his added value as a lead-blocking fullback, occasional ball-carrier, and contributor on special teams units.

With Faulk entrenched as the team’s third-down back, that left Maroney fighting for the No. 4 spot on the depth chart.

Because coaches often look for special teams value in that spot, Green-Ellis is a better fit than Maroney.

Given that set of dynamics, plus the chance to pick up a fourth-round draft choice, the Patriots saw enough value in the deal to pull the trigger.