Heading into free agency,the position of wide receiver will become a crucial need for the Patriots. With Wes Welker basically gone, and Brandon Lloyd possibly being released soon, Matthew Slater will become the number one receiver, and no Patriots fan wants to see that happening. They need a new slot receiver, and a deep threat that can stretch the field for the Patriots.
-I know this article is long but it’ll tell you everything you need to know about the Patriots potential free agent market-
The wide receiver market is plentiful this year, with Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings at the top of the market. Recent news of Anquan Boldin being “ready to move on” from the Ravens could also spark some Patriots interest. Although all three of these high profile receivers could cost more than the Pats want to pay, with the cap space freed up from Lloyd’s (potential) release and the absence of the cap hit for Welker, the Patriots could afford to bring one of these deep threats in.
Another viable option that the Patriots have is Danario Alexander, Philip River’s favorite target at San Diego. It was recently reported that the Chargers would bid low for him, leaving him with the option to explore what the open market has to offer him. If the Patriots play it smart, they could get this excellent young receiver for the right price, and still have cap room to spend money on their defense. One disadvantage of Alexander is that he has been plagued by injuries in the past, and has a history of knee problems and surgeries.
The position of slot receiver is especially important to the Patriots because Tom Brady is (obviously) not a very mobile quarterback. When he is pressured, he can’t scramble for (too many) extra yards. With a reliable slot receiver, Tom could easily dump it off to his slot option.With the news of Wes Welker choosing to test the free agent market, the Patriots are now in dire need of a backup plan for the slot receiver position in case Wes chooses not to come back (which I personally think he won’t).
Two existing options that the Patriots have are Julian Edelman and Aaron Hernandez. If the Patriots sign back Julian Edelman next year, he could very well play in the slot, even though his production probably won’t be as high as Welker’s. Aaron Hernandez already plays the receiver position extremely well, and creates mismatches for defenses. He has the size and speed to be a great receiver, and has already proved himself to be a great slot receiver. The problem with both of these existing options is that they are both highly susceptible to injuries. On of the reasons that Wes Welker is such a great receiver is his toughness and his ability to avoid injuries.
One option that I found to be fitting is to put Danny Woodhead (if he gets signed back next year) in the slot. He is built much like Welker, and even though he is a running back, he is excellent in the passing game. He has proved that he can catch the ball and he has proved his chemistry with Brady, and he is experienced in team plays. The move to give Woodhead more of a receiver role could be a smart one, so why not try?
Two free agent options that the Patriots have are Danny Amendola and Victor Cruz (though he is a restricted free agent).
Victor Cruz is certainly an excellent receiver, and has been driving us Patriots fans crazy for the past few years. He has proved that he can be a reliable option both in the slot and as a deep threat. The problem with acquiring him is that the Patriots would have to give up a first rounder to the Giants because he is a restricted free agent, and in this year’s draft, the Pats really can’t afford to do that.
Danny Amendola is a great option for the Patriots (indicated by the Pats already “showing interest” in him). He is a reliable slot receiver who can turn short passes into big plays. Amendola was Sam Bradford’s favorite target at St. Louis, and even with an average quarterback he could produce fairly well. The problem with him (as with just about everyone else) is that he has been plagued by injuries throughout his career.