The New England Patriots will look to defend their Super Bowl title in 2017. But first, they have some questions to answer.
Before the NFL Scouting Combine kicks off next week, marking the unofficial start of the NFL offseason, we’re taking a position-by-position look at the Patriots’ roster. We’ll examine which players stood out in 2016, which ones have some work to do this offseason and which ones could be leaving town.
Next up: the wide receivers.
Devin Lucien (practice squad)
IMPENDING FREE AGENTS
Edelman was the unquestioned top dog of the Patriots’ deep and talented receiving corps, a billing he lived up to this season. His 1,106 receiving yards were a career high, his 98 receptions were his most since 2013, and both of those stats led the team by a wide margin.
What made Edelman truly invaluable, though, was his production after a back injury relegated star tight end Rob Gronkowski to injured reserve. Edelman racked up a ridiculous 831 yards on 55 catches over New England’s final eight games (including playoffs) and went over 100 yards receiving in four of those contests.
Oh, and there also was that catch he made in Super Bowl LI, which you might have seen once or twice by now.
Honorable mention goes to Hogan, who emerged as the Patriots’ most dangerous deep threat in years while finishing tied for the NFL lead in yards per catch (17.9).
Amendola made some clutch catches for the Patriots this season and had a monster game in the Super Bowl. But overall, it was a disappointing campaign for the 31-year-old, who caught just 23 passes during the regular season and missed four games with a high ankle sprain.
Given his lofty $7.79 million salary cap hit for 2017 — the fourth-highest on the team — it’s extremely unlikely Amendola sticks around unless he agrees to restructure his contract for a third time.
BY THE NUMBERS
124: The number of times quarterback Tom Brady targeted Edelman over the final 10 weeks of the season (i.e. after Gronkowski went down), by far the most of any Patriots pass-catcher. Second on that list was running back James White with 60 targets.
11: The number of times Brady targeted Amendola in Super Bowl LI. Brady threw his way just 29 times during the entire regular season.
BIGGEST OFFSEASON STORYLINES
1. Will Amendola restructure? There’s almost no chance the Patriots will pay him the $6 million salary he’s owed next season. If he doesn’t agree to a pay cut — which he reportedly is open to doing — New England likely will be forced to release him.
2. Will Floyd be back? The former Arizona Cardinal didn’t make much of an impact outside of his explosive Week 17 showing in Miami and was inactive for both the AFC Championship Game and the Super Bowl. He also currently is serving a jail sentence for the December DUI that prompted the Cardinals to waive him. The 27-year-old will be out in time for training camp, however, and given his recent off-the-field issues, it seems likely the Patriots would be able to re-sign him to an affordable one-year contract if they so choose. For what it’s worth, Floyd said during Super Bowl week he wants to remain in New England.
3. Will the Patriots extend Edelman? The highly productive wideout is signed through this coming season, but he’s set to hit free agency in 2018 and should be in line for a major pay raise once he does. Edelman’s 2017 cap hit of $5.75 million ranks 30th among all wide receivers, according to Spotrac, and New England could look to lock him up long-term with a contract extension this offseason.
Thumbnail photo via Bob Donnan/USA TODAY Sports Images