Bill Belichick was going to find a way to acquire Chris Hogan come hell or high water.
If any player was created to join the New England Patriots, it’s Hogan, to whom the Patriots reportedly extended a three-year, $12 million offer sheet Friday morning. The Buffalo Bills are not expected to match.
1. Played lacrosse at Penn State
2. Is from the northeast
3. Is an emergency left-footed punter
4. Is a special-teams standout
5. Ran a 6.75-second 3-cone drill
6. Also played safety in college
7. Almost went to Rutgers
Steve and Brian have a case to be worried. Belichick might have found his new favorite son.
But where does Hogan fit into the Patriots’ offense, given the likely scenario that the Bills don’t match their offer?
At 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, Hogan certainly has the size to play the “X” role in the Patriots’ offense. The Patriots don’t necessarily look for the same traits in an “X” as other teams. Brandon LaFell played the role for two years in New England and primarily lined up in the slot during his first four years in the NFL with the Carolina Panthers.
Hogan split his time last season between playing in the slot and at outside receiver. And when he was playing outside, his time was split between the “X” and “Z” roles. His reps at “X” were limited because the Bills have Sammy Watkins manning that role.
Hogan’s experience playing different roles would give the Patriots valuable flexibility in acquiring other receivers this offseason. Edelman spends most of his time in the “Z” role, while Danny Amendola is their primary slot receiver, so by process of elimination (as long as Amendola sticks around), Hogan would play the “X.” But if the Patriots draft a wide receiver with the size, speed and upside to play the “X,” Hogan has the experience to move to the slot or “Z” positions.
Hogan has nice agility, but he, Edelman and Amendola would not be redundant, despite how how some Patriots fans immediately are judging the free-agent wideout. Hogan is bigger and stronger than the Patriots’ starting receivers. He also has some deep-threat skills. He caught seven of 20 deep passes last season for 219 yards with one touchdown. Those numbers might not seem overly impressive, but five of those 13 incompletions were thrown by Bills backup quarterback EJ Manuel.
Patriots fans went into free agency with visions of Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Travis Benjamin and Rishard Matthews dancing through their heads. Those players will earn an average of $8 million, $6.5 million, $6 million and $5 million per year, respectively, in their new contracts. It seemed the Patriots were unwilling to pay a receiver more than Julian Edelman, who averages $4.25 million per year on his contract, so they were left with Hogan or one of many old or injury-prone receivers left on the open market.
Hogan, for the record, was more productive than Sanu last season. Hogan had 36 receptions for 450 yards with two touchdowns, while Sanu had a 33/394/0 line.
Only time will tell if the Patriots’ decision not to overpay an unrestricted free agent will work out, but for now, Hogan seems like a good fit.
Thumbnail photo via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports Images