The Pats, sources said, will get back a 2021 sixth-round pick for Thomas, who was inactive for the team’s Week 1 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Thomas became expendable after New England signed wide receiver Antonio Brown.
Thomas, who tore his Achilles in December, was activated off the physically unable to perform list on Aug. 20. He had seven catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns in the Patriots’ preseason finale, which was his first game since the injury.
With Thomas out, the Patriots’ wide receiver depth chart now features Brown, Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski. Dorsett reeled in two touchdowns on Sunday night, while Gordon caught one of his own, meanwhile Edelman led the team in receptions with six.
The Jets have the opposite problem, with only two New York receivers catching multiple passes in a Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills, and only two were targeted more than three times. Jamison Crowder by far got the lion’s share of attention from quarterback Sam Darnold as Crowder led all NFL players with 19 targets and a 43.2% target share.
The Jets will also welcome a veteran presence within their receiving corps. The 31-year-old Thomas is now the oldest wideout on the team ahead of Robby Anderson (26), Joshua Bellamy (30), Braxton Berrios (23), Crowder (26) and Quincy Enunwa (27). Berrios was among the Patriots’ final cuts this season before joining the Jets.
Thomas will be new to New York, but is familiar with coach Adam Gase. Gase served as the Denver Broncos‘ wide receivers coach from 2010-13 and then as the team’s offensive coordinator from 2013-14. Thomas spent the first nine years of his career in Denver.
With the trade, New England’s Bill Belichick has now executed a deal with all 31 other teams in the NFL since taking over as the Patriots’ head coach in 2000.
Information from ESPN’s Mike Reiss was used in this report.