Patriots Mailbag: Big, Fast Receiver Needed; Not Necessarily Deep Threat


Many New England Patriots fans still yearn for the days of Randy Moss.

It doesn’t matter how many times quarterback Tom Brady over- or under-throws a long pass, nor does it matter how many “deep threats” have come through Gillette Stadium and failed in the Patriots’ system. Some Patriots fans don’t concern themselves with the fact that the team won a Super Bowl a year ago without a deep threat while never doing so with Moss in the offense. Many New Englanders ignore that the success of the Patriots’ offense is predicated on a lack of risks.

And yet still, Patriots fans think the cure-all for the offense and the reason they lost to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game was because they didn’t have the second-coming of Randy Moss in the offense.

With another week before the Patriots can make transactions, let’s get into this week’s mailbag:

@DougKyed Do you think the patriots are in need of a deep field threat?
— @Mustafalattar10
Short answer: Kind of.

The Patriots need a big, fast receiver who can run intermediate to down-field routes and get separation from defensive backs. That certainly could be categorized as a deep threat receiver.

What most people envision when they think of a deep threat, however, is Tom Brady chucking the ball 40 yards downfield to a receiver on a go route six times per game. I don’t necessarily support that idea.

The Patriots’ offense is better when Brady isn’t throwing deep frequently. He had a passer rating of 15.5 on throws over 30 yards this season.

There are times when Brady has to throw deep, however, and they need a weapon other than tight end Rob Gronkowski to run those routes. Brandon LaFell proved to be a solid “X” receiver in the Patriots offense in 2014, but he doesn’t have the speed to take the top off the defense.

Signing a pure “deep threat” would be a waste of a roster spot and money. They need a receiver who not only is big and fast enough to be a deep threat but also technically sound and smart enough to fit into the Patriots’ offense on the other 55 offensive plays per game. That player is tough to find. Cincinnati Bengals free-agent receivers Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu potentially could fill that role.

@DougKyed will the patriots try to talk Calvin Johnson out of retirement for a ring and for how much money?
— @CyrusNabavi
They could try all they want, but if he a.) doesn’t retire, or b.) retires and then comes out of retirement, he’d still be under contract with the Detroit Lions. So, the Lions would have to trade him or release him. And if there’s interest in Johnson, it’s unlikely the Lions would cut him for nothing, even given his relatively absurd contract.

There are so many steps to take before Johnson would become a member of the Patriots that it’s really not worth considering at this point.

@DougKyed What do the Patriots do should Brady regress and show his age next year?
— @mattstdream
@DougKyed What are the chances Garappolo gets moved this off season?
— @mattstdream
I suppose I’ll start off this answer by saying I don’t think Brady regresses next season. He didn’t show signs of regression this season, even if the offense did at times.

IF Brady severely, severely regresses in 2016, they could cut him following the season, and Garoppolo, who’s also signed through 2017, would take over as the starter.

I think the Patriots could trade Garoppolo if the offer is right, but the safer move is probably to see how Brady performs in 2016 and then think about moving Garoppolo before 2017.

@DougKyed C. Jones will play his butt off next year looking for the big payday.(good for him!) Best to let him walk and take the comp pick?
— @MrQuindazzi
Probably. The other two options are to extend Chandler Jones now or to trade him. I think Jones will be too expensive, and he probably knows that.

He’s a double-digit sack pass rusher, and those players typically sign huge contracts — even if the double-digit sack pass rushers found shirtless outside police stations. The best the Patriots probably could get for Jones would be a second-round pick, so it might be worth it to keep him in 2016 and then likely receive a third-round compensatory pick when he eventually leaves in free agency.

The Patriots should, however, make strides toward extending Jabaal Sheard this offseason.

#MondayMailbag still don’t understand drafting Jordan Richards last year. Is he long term solution at SS, or is he Tavon Wilson II ?
— @somc12345
I think Richards is a good player, but I have to agree with you. As long as Patrick Chung stays healthy, then no, Richards isn’t the long-term solution at strong safety. Chung is one of the best strong safeties in the NFL. The Patriots love safeties, though, and Richards is essentially the strong-safety equivalent of free safety Duron Harmon. Both players serve as depth, and they each can play specialized roles in sub packages.

@DougKyed What are your thoughts on #GreaseLive?
— @matthewfjensen
I chose to watch “Grease Live” over the Pro Bowl, because I’m a person who makes intelligent decisions.

I thought Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens were great. The rest was OK.

I once drove 24 hours straight down to Florida for a college spring break trip, and my friends and I listened to “We Go Together” to stay awake.

Kids, don’t drive for 24 hours straight.

@DougKyed Is Tom Brady pissed they lost that Denver game?
— @MrQuindazzi
Yeah, probably.

@DougKyed what’s your gut feeling about mayo and amendola? Cut? Contract restructure?
— @ToriGrignon
My gut feeling is Danny Amendola restructures his contract and returns but Jerod Mayo doesn’t.

Amendola has value in the Patriots’ offense as the slot receiver, and I’m not sure what kind of contract he’d fetch on the open market at this point. He’s put in a lot of work with Brady, and leaving at this point might not be in his best interest.

Mayo’s situation will be interesting to watch. He still has value off the field, but he played just 36.1 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and suffered another pectoral injury.

With Patrick Graham gone as linebackers coach, it adds even more intrigue to Mayo’s offseason. He could play on another team, but he also could immediately step in as the Patriots’ linebackers coach if he wants to stay in New England.

At the very least, Mayo will have to restructure his contract if he wants to play with the Patriots next season. He’s currently due for the second highest cap hit on the team behind Brady.

Thumbnail photo via Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Jan 16, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass during the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Divisional round playoff game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

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