Following the releases of Malcolm Mitchell, Kenny Britt, and Jordan Matthews, along with the abrupt retirement of Eric Decker the Patriots receiving corps depth is thinner than an anorexic model sipping on cucumber water.
Left standing in the wide receiver meeting room are Julian Edelman, who is suspended for the first 4 games of the season, and is coming off a year missed to injury. Chris Hogan who has emerged as a capable starting receiver, but is also approaching free agency. Philip Dorsett, who seems to be developing a chemistry with Tom Brady, but thus far has been mostly unimpressive on the NFL stage. And Cordarelle Patterson has the potential to be a Percy Harvin like swiss army knife, but is not an accomplished route runner. They all seem to be locks to make the squad, along with Matthew Slater, an All-Pro veteran, as a special teamer, and is really a wide receiver in name only.
Youngsters like Braxton Berrios, Riley McCarron, and Devin Lucien are still unproven. Any of the three could very well end up on the practice squad to provide depth in case of injury. Its not only conceivable, its downright likely that the open day roster will have only 4 active wide receivers, and that includes Slater.
But who outside of the current players could make their way onto the Patriots roster? Big names like DeMaryus Thomas, Randall Cobb, and Dez Bryant have been tossed out by various pundits, but Bryant seemingly doesn’t have the discipline required by the Patriots offense. Meanwhile Thomas and Cobb have price tags that would make their acquisition prohibitive.
Here are four guys that more fit the profile of what Nick Caserio could be looking for. Players that could likely be acquired for a late round, or conditional pick.
LEONTE CARROO – MIAMI DOLPHINS
A former third round pick out of Rutgers (which automatically puts him on any “future Patriot” list) he thus far has produced just 10 receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown. The 6’1” 24 year old is not what you’d call an established product. Anything more than a conditional 7th rounder would be an overpay.
RASHAD GREENE – JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
The shifty former Seminole has yet to fully emerge as a professional after a decorated collegiate career. He was drafted in the fifth round of the 2015 draft, and missed the 2017 season. With the signing of Donte Moncreif, and drafting of D.J. Chalk along with the emergence of some younger receivers like Dede Westbrook and Keelen Cole, the Jaguars simply don’t have the roster space to keep waiting for Greene’s talents to display themselves.
MACK HOLLINS – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
A fourth rounder just last season, Hollins flashed some potential with 16 receptions for 226 yards for the Eagles. A towering 6’4”, he’d fit the physical profile that it seemed the Patriots hoped Kenny Britt would fill. Additionally he’s also been a key special teams contributor for the Eagles, something that is always taken into consideration when discussing the bottom half of a roster. From the Eagles standpoint, they’ve got 3 veterans atop the depth chart in Alshon Jeffrey, Mike Wallace, and Nelson Agholar, along with off season acquisition Markus Wheaton, while youngsters Shelton Gibson and DeAndre Carter have seemingly passed Hollins on the depth chart.
KAMAR AIKEN – PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The 29 year old faces the same up hill battle Hollins does to crack the Eagles’ receiver rotation, while carrying a slightly larger cap hit. Aiken had a career year in 2015, posting highs of 75 receptions for 944 yards while with the Ravens. That stint with Baltimore was preceded by Aiken having spent the 2012 season with New England bouncing between the practice squad and the roster. His return would be aided by his having some familiarity with the system, and Brady. Its more likely he would be a post cut pick up than a traded for player, but he certainly is someone to keep an eye on.
- By Jason Sullivan
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