Coming off a year where the Patriots wide receivers helped carry them to their fifth Super Bowl title in 16 years, the “rich got richer” in New England.
With OTA’s beginning last week, the Patriots kept Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, rookie standout Malcolm Mitchell, and Matthew Slater should be locks to be on the 53-man roster come September.
Edelman is coming off his best year as a Patriot catching 98 passes for 1,056 yards and three touchdowns, proving once again, when the going gets tough, Tom Brady can always rely on his pal Julian Edelman. Hogan, who flourished in his first year in New England, proved he can be a reliable deep threat here in New England catching eleven passes for more than twenty yards. Mitchell was huge for the Patriots down the stretch and caught some big passes from his two touchdowns verse the Jets in November all the way to the Super Bowl. Amendola battled some injuries again but played a crucial part in another Super Bowl win catching some big passes in the Patriots come from behind win in Super Bowl LI. Lastly, Matthew Slater won’t line up to catch many passes, but his ability to lead New England’s special teams will have him active for every game.
In addition to this loaded receiving corps, the Patriots added arguably the best deep threat in the league in 23-year-old Brandin Cooks. The speedster is one of three receivers active in the league today to catch 75 passes and have over 1,100 receiving yards in his first three years in the league (Antonio Brown and Odell Beckham Jr. are the other two). Cooks will most likely line up wide and run deep vertical routes to spread the field even more for Tom Brady’s offense.
Just when you think they’re done adding talent, the Patriots signed wide receiver Andrew Hawkins earlier last week and if you can remember, he torched the Patriots in Cleveland earlier this year.
The Patriots also signed undrafted and former walk-on at Northwestern Austin Carr who led the Big Ten in catches and receiving yards but he should be on the practice squad unless injuries plague this group of receivers.
With seven Tom Brady targets all worthy enough to make the 53-man roster, Bill Belichick will likely make one of them inactive, as he usually rolls with mainly six receivers each game. So the question remains, who will sit or who will be cut out of that group?
It’s a given that Edelman, Hogan, Cooks, Slater and Mitchell should be active every Sunday if healthy, but what about Amendola or Hawkins?
Amendola, who once again restructured his deal to stay put in New England, is a true Patriot receiver in many fans’ eyes, however, Hawkins was just signed and could give Amendola a run for his money when it comes time to crunch the roster.
Last year, the Patriots signed wideout Nate Washington to a similar deal as Hawkins and he was cut in camp, so they could do the same to Hawkins this time around.
Best case scenario is New England keeps all its receivers and Hawkins would likely be inactive for most games unless someone gets hurt. Having deep depth at any position is a good thing, but with this Patriots team, having a pool of talented receivers could be key to another Super Bowl run.