The New England Patriots reportedly bolstered their receiving corps Tuesday by agreeing to terms with veteran Kenny Britt on a two-year contract.
Some thoughts on what Britt’s reported arrival means for the Patriots:
— The timing of the pending signing was curious, as it came at a time when New England’s receiver depth was the strongest it had been in weeks.
Chris Hogan just returned from a four-game injury-related absence Monday night, and while he wasn’t much of a factor in a 27-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins (five targets, one catch, 1 yard), having him back was viewed as a major boost to a Patriots offense that had remained potent without him.
Even with Julian Edelman and Malcolm Mitchell stuck on injured reserve, a depth chart of Brandin Cooks, Hogan, Danny Amendola and Phillip Dorsett still was a formidable one. The chance to add Britt to the mix apparently was too good to pass up, however, and the Patriots brought the 29-year-old in four days after the Cleveland Browns cut ties with him.
The Patriots were linked to Britt this past summer, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, but he wound up signing a four-year, $32.5 million contract with Cleveland.
Britt also visited the Patriots back in 2014 but did not sign.
— Britt flopped with the Browns, catching just 18 passes for 233 yards and two touchdowns in nine games before being waived last Friday, just nine months after signing that big-money deal.
He enjoyed the best season of his career in 2016, however, posting career highs with 68 catches and 1,002 receiving yards in his final year with the Los Angeles Rams.
It’s not surprising that the Patriots, whose history of successful reclamation projects is well-documented, would take a flier on Britt. New England lacked a big, physical presence in its receiving corps, and the 6-foot-3 Britt fits that bill.
Cooks and Hogan both struggled to get open downfield and haul in contested catches against the Dolphins, combining for just two grabs on 12 targets for 39 yards. Two of those targets resulted in interceptions
— The fact that Britt is a Rutgers product likely didn’t hurt, either, given Bill Belichick’s close relationship with ex-Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano.
Britt’s Rutgers tenure overlapped Patriots safety Devin McCourty’s. He was drafted 30th overall by the Tennessee Titans in 2009, one year before New England nabbed McCourty with the 27th overall selection in 2010.
— Britt was involved in nine incidents with police during his five seasons with the Titans, including a 2012 arrest on DUI charges that resulted in a one-game suspension. He also was sent home from a Browns road trip earlier this season for missing curfew in Houston.
This marks the second time in two years the Patriots have added a receiver with off-the-field red flags late in the season. They did so with Michael Floyd last December, claiming him off waivers from the Arizona Cardinals following a DUI arrest.
— With Britt joining the fray and tight end Rob Gronkowski returning from his one-game suspension, the Patriots will need to trim two players from their 53-man roster this week.
Dorsett, who has caught just seven passes all season, could be on the chopping block after not playing a single snap against Miami. Wideout/return man Bernard Reedy, who was promoted from the practice squad two weeks ago, is another candidate.
— Britt’s Patriots contract reportedly runs through the 2018 season. Edelman, Cooks, Hogan and Mitchell all are under contract through next year, as well, as are tight ends Gronkowski, Dwayne Allen, Martellus Bennett and Jacob Hollister.
— The addition of Britt might mean the Patriots have given up hope of Mitchell returning from IR this season. The second-year pro suffered a knee injury in the preseason and has yet to return to the practice field.
— Britt has to be pretty happy about this move. He goes from the winless Browns to a Patriots team that once again is competing for the top spot in the AFC.