The New England Patriots are loading up on defense. First they signed the best cornerback in the NFL, Darrelle Revis, then they signed ex-Seahawks giant cornerback Brandon Browner (both reported by Adam Schefter, ESPN).
But what about getting Tom Brady some weapons?
Here’s one writer’s thoughts on some guys that would make sense:
Julian Edelman (NE)
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first. After a breakout 105 catch, 1056 yard season, Edelman makes perfect sense for a return. He has a half-decade of rapport with Brady and was the only receiver that didn’t miss time due to injury in 2013. As Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com shared on Twitter, a return to New England is likely.
James Jones (GB)
Having played in an equally as complex offense in Green Bay, Jones makes a lot of sense. Jones would provide two key elements to the wide receiving corps: experience and size (6’1″, 208 lbs). Jones will be 30 this month, so it may come as a surprise that he is coming off his best season–in terms of yards–earning 819 yards on 59 catches. Given his age and less-than-elite production, it’s a bit unclear how his market will unfold, but from a pure-football perspective, the fit is clear.
Emmanuel Sanders (PIT)
The Patriots almost had Sanders last off-season before the Steelers matched their offer sheet. With that said, the interest is likely still there. However, if Edelman is re-signed, Bill Belichick may view Sander’s skill set as a bit redundant since both are smaller receivers who can play inside/outside (you can throw Amendola in that category as well). Sanders may be seen as more of a backup plan–a good backup–if Edelman isn’t back. Sanders wouldn’t have the chemistry that Edelman has with Brady, but would be an upgrade in the speed department.
Jason Avant (PHI)
The Patriots reportedly had Avant in for a visit this week (per Field Yates, ESPNBoston). Avant is absolutely at the end of his career, but is a leader in the locker room, fairly productive, and could serve as a nice mentor for the young’uns. This probably wouldn’t be a terrible signing, but someone more effective is likely needed.
Nate Burleson (DET)
Similar to Avant, Burleson is on the back nine of his career. However, he still appears to be a productive receiver (39 catches, 461 yards in nine games in 2013). Having played only 15 games over the last two seasons, his problem is his health (although does a pizza accident really count?). On the cheap, this signing would make sense.
Brandon LaFell (CAR)
LaFell visited the Patriots this week (per Schefter). He’s interesting because at 6’2″ 210 lbs, he’s built like a traditional outside “X” receiver, but spends most of his time (63%) in the slot (per ProFootballFocus, subscription required). LaFell is coming off his best season (49 catches, 627 yards), and given his age (27) there is certainly some upside there which likely sparked some intrigue from the Pats.