The New England Patriots could lose their most productive wide receiver this offseason in Julian Edelman, so they are taking a look at other wideouts in free agency who could also sign with the team even if a deal is reached with Edelman. Not only are the Patriots bringing in Carolina Panthers wide receiver Brandon LaFell in for a workout today, but NESN’s Doug Kyed reports that the team is also interested in wide receiver Jason Avant, who was unsurprisingly released by the Philadelphia Eagles earlier this offseason.
Many people speculated that the Patriots could show interest in Avant, but he only makes sense as a signing if the Patriots are indeed unable to keep Edelman. Avant is a class act in every sense and a solid route-runner with some of the best hands and football IQ in the league, but he’s also slow and unathletic. Although he would be a clear downgrade from Edelman in the slot, Avant is a legitimate “Plan B” option for the Patriots and would likely turn in a quality 2014 season with Tom Brady throwing passes at him.
The Patriots are also showing significant interest in a quality starting guard, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jim Thomas reports that the Pats will meet with former St. Louis Rams guard Shelley Smith, who is visiting with the New York Giants today. The 27-year-old could still re-sign with the Rams, but it’s looking more likely that the underrated guard will sign elsewhere. If the Patriots sign him, then they would be able to release the overpaid Dan Connolly or move him to his more natural center position if they cannot re-sign Ryan Wendell.