Griff Whalen Signing Gives Patriots A Fill-In Returner With Danny Amendola Out

FOXBORO, Mass. — Bill Belichick announced the New England Patriots’ latest roster move Friday morning, confirming the team had signed free-agent wide receiver Griff Whalen.

Belichick declined to offer a detailed scouting report on Whalen, who previously spent time with the Indianapolis Colts and San Diego Chargers.

“We’ll see how it goes,” the Patriots coach said. “We’ll see how it works into our receiving situation. I don’t know. We’ll see. … He’s been more of an inside receiver. He’s done some returning. Again, we’ll see.”

Danny Amendola’s ankle injury left the Patriots with holes at both receiver and at punt returner. In addition to his 47 career receptions, Whalen has returned 46 punts over his four NFL seasons, averaging 8.2 yards per return.

“He hasn’t had a ton of production as a returner, but he’s returned,” Belichick said. “Again, we’ll see.”

Belichick did admit it’s typically easier for a player to return punts on a new team than it is for one to learn a new offense.

“Yeah, certainly there are a lot fewer moving parts on that,” he said.

Rookie cornerback Cyrus Jones and starting wide receiver Julian Edelman have been New England’s secondary punt returners behind Amendola this season. Jones has had issues with ball security, and the Patriots likely would prefer not to expose Edelman to additional injury risk, especially with Amendola and tight end Rob Gronkowski both sidelined.

Belichick also explained the decision to sign a free agent in Whalen rather than promote Devin Lucien or DeAndrew White, the Patriots’ two practice-squad receivers.

“Well, it’s experience and really the contrast of being in a system and moving up a little bit or having been at (the NFL) level but not having much time in the system,” Belichick said. “It’s the conversation that we had, obviously. Sometimes you feel like you know for sure you’re making the right decision. Other times, you’re kind of in a wait-and-see mode. It’s what you feel is best at that time, but in the end, is there a better way to go? I don’t know. Until you get a player in that you don’t have before, it’s hard to evaluate.

“At least the guys you have, you have an idea of where they are. You have to wait and see how they perform at the next level, but guys that aren’t on your roster that you bring in, you still have to wait and see how that goes. And we’ve been in that situation before at this time of year. Austin Collie a couple of years ago — guys like that. You just have to see how it works out.

“So we’ll see with Griff how it goes. We haven’t had him before. Haven’t had him in a camp. Haven’t had him in our system. So we’ll see.”

Thumbnail photo via Brett Davis/USA TODAY Sports Images

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