Tom Brady passed for 5,235 yards last season, the second-highest total in NFL history. But for a quarterback to throw for all those yards, he needs someone to catch the ball.
Brady had no shortage of targets last season, as four Patriots had more than 700 receiving yards.
Wes Welker led the team with 1,569, a total that ranked second in the league. Rob Gronkowski had 1,327 receiving yards, the highest single-season total by a tight end in NFL history. Aaron Hernandez and Deion Branch rounded out the Patriots’ top four receivers with 910 and 702 yards, respectively.
It’s possible that New England’s offense will be even better in 2012, with the additions of Brandon Lloyd — who had 966 receiving yards for the Broncos and Rams last season — and Jabar Gaffney (947 with the Redskins last season). The Pats also added Gaffney’s teammate, Donte Stallworth, from the Redskins. Stallworth, like Gaffney, has played for the Patriots before, racking up 697 receiving yards in his sole season in Foxboro in 2007.
With all those hands to throw to, Brady seems set to challenge the 5,000 passing yards barrier again. But the question remains: Which player will get the lion’s share of production?