Patriots Mailbag: Would Acquired Wide Receiver Actually Make Sizable Impact?

To quote Samuel L. Jackson in “Jurassic Park,” Patriots fans, “hold onto your butts.” It’s about to be a busy weekend.

The Patriots have their fourth and final preseason game at Metlife Stadium on Thursday night against the New York Giants. After that, beat writers will scramble to assemble one more 53-man roster projection. On Saturday, the Patriots will trim their roster from 89 players down to 53 while also potentially making some trades along the way. They’ll possibly claim players off waivers and sign 10 guys to their practice squad Sunday.

Then it’s on to Week 1 against the Houston Texans.

But for now, watch above and read below for this week’s mailbag.

Do you see the patriots making a move for a WR before the start of the season?
— @ToriGrignon
I do expect the Patriots to acquire a wide receiver at some point between now and Week 1 of the regular season, but let’s preemptively temper any expectations for that prospective player.

I wrote Tuesday afternoon about why Phillip Dorsett could have a breakout season in 2018 after being targeted just 18 times in 15 games last regular season. To recap: Dorsett missed the install portion of the Patriots’ offense and had to memorize game plans all season while attempting to get on the same page as Tom Brady. Not fun, nor really all that possible.

A receiver acquired by the Patriots, assuming it’s not a player with previous knowledge of the system, would have to go through the same grueling process.

These are players acquired by the Patriots via trade after training camp broke and their numbers that season:

Andre Davis, 2002: 9 receptions: 190 yards, one touchdown
Doug Gabriel, 2006: 30 catches, 428 yards, three touchdowns
Deion Branch, 2010: 48 catches, 706 yards, five touchdowns
Greg Salas, 2012: No catches in one game
Keshawn Martin, 2015: 24 catches, 269 yards, two touchdowns
Phillip Dorsett, 2017: 12 catches, 194 yards, no touchdowns

Who’s the outlier there? Branch, who spent four seasons with the Patriots before being traded to the Seattle Seahawks and then traded back to the Patriots in 2010.

Otherwise, you’re hoping a player acquired now can replicate Doug Gabriel’s stat line. Doug Gabriel!

Even if the Patriots somehow acquire a higher-end, big-name receiver like either Golden Tate, Demaryius Thomas or Randall Cobb, it would be unrealistic for them to put up No. 1 receiver numbers. So, the Patriots would have to get a bargain on such a player.

The Patriots might have more success signing a player who’s been in the system before. The only players out there that fit that mold are Brandon LaFell, Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews and Malcolm Mitchell. It would probably take an injury to the current receiver corps for the Patriots to give one of those players a second chance.

It seems ex-Patriots receivers Kamar Aiken and DeAndre Carter are competing for one spot on the Philadelphia Eagles’ roster. Maybe the Patriots would give one of those players another chance if released.

With about nine million new comparisons to the 2006 crop of receivers each day, which year would you say is an accurate parallel to this year’s WR corps? #MailDoug #LoudMagi
— @TeamCrazyMatt
Wide receivers alone? Maybe 2010?

The Patriots had Randy Moss for just four games, then Wes Welker coming off a torn ACL, Deion Branch, Julian Edelman and Brandon Tate.

Julian Edelman = Welker

Branch > Chris Hogan

Dorsett > Tate

Then the 2018 Patriots are rounded out with Cordarrelle Patterson, who’s a gadget player.

The Patriots’ 2018 weapons overall are much better, however, when you throw in tight ends and running backs.

And quarterback Tom Brady won an MVP that season. It could be worse, folks.

You could also compare it to the 2013 squad.

Edelman = Edelman

Hogan = Amendola

Dorsett > Aaron Dobson

Patterson > Kenbrell Thompkins

Once again, I’d rank the Patriots’ 2018 weapons higher than 2013. Gronkowski is still Gronkowski, Rex Burkhead, James White, Sony Michel, Jeremy Hill and Brandon Bolden are probably a smidge better than Stevan Ridley, LeGarrette Blount, Shane Vereen and Bolden, and Jacob Hollister and Dwayne Allen are better than Michael Hoomanawanui and Matthew Mulligan.

#maildoug what are the chances Jason McCourty is the extra safety over Jordan Richards? The writing seems to be on the wall. #Patriots
— @Millerxxxvi
I know Patriots fans want to rid themselves of Richards. I can’t see the team keeping Jason McCourty as a fourth safety over Richards, however, unless he has a monster fourth and final preseason game playing the position.

I could see the Patriots keeping Jason McCourty as a versatile defensive back, but it seems like Richards will make this team again in 2018.

@DougKyed Hey Doug, do you think any of the 3 new signees will be ready to play Thursday night?
— @lucasjensendfs
I do believe wide receiver K.J. Maye and running backs Kenneth Farrow and Khalfani Muhammad will play this week. I’m actually excited to watch Farrow and Muhammad.

Farrow started games with the then-San Diego Chargers in 2016, and Muhammad is the smallest running back in the NFL but also maybe the fastest.

Who is the favorite to be the lead back come week 1?
— @Ayush_Gupta03
Rex Burkhead, assuming he’s healthy.

If he’s not, then Jeremy Hill might see the most carries with James White getting more snaps.

Even if he’s healthy, I can’t see rookie Sony Michel being the lead back in Week 1 after missing most of training camp and all of the preseason.

I drafted Hill in my non-PPR fantasy league Wednesday night, for whatever that’s worth.

Am i wrong for thinking James White will be the single most important on offense (other than brady) during the earlier part of the season ? #MailDoug
— @June__NYC
You are, June. That will be Rob Gronkowski.

Don’t get me wrong: White is important. But Burkhead, if healthy, might steal away some of his targets.  Gronk is Gronk. He has to stay healthy.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Is Devin Lucien a lock or what? He almost made the team last year and I love his game and knowledge of the system. Time to let him loose! #MailDoug
— @EricJsaint
No way. Lucien needs a monster Week 4 of the preseason to make the team.

Tell me about this Guerrero guy…
— @CiprianoRjcip22
No, thanks! I think I’m as done with that story as all of you guys are.

@DougKyed who gets more playing time this year Jordan Richards or Elandon Roberts? #maildoug
— @yirt
Roberts.

Braxton Berrios and Trent Harris – roster chances vs practice squad?
— @brettgolov
As I mentioned in the video above, Berrios has a chance to catch the “Foxboro Flu.” If not, Berrios and Harris both are practice squad candidates.

@DougKyed which young corner is most likely to get picked up by another team if cut? #maildoug
— @yirt
I think JC Jackson would get picked up if the Patriots try to get him through waivers, which is why I think he sticks on the team.

I don’t know about Keion Crossen. He might get claimed because he flashed some good film during training camp.

I don’t think Ryan Lewis, Cyrus Jones or Jomal Wiltz would be claimed. Jones is talented enough to be claimed, but it would be cheaper to let him hit free agency and then sign him rather than carrying his $814,246 salary.

Is it likely that Lafell will be back?
— @davyzwegers
Not likely but possible.

Do they honestly think Dez isn’t worth a 1 year deal? I’m baffled
— @AdamFriedman9
I think he still wants too much money. That, plus he’s not a great fit.

What’s your favorite movie that’s half animated and half live action?
— @Mike_Grant603
“Space Jam,” I guess? Do the opening credits of “Christmas Vacation” count as being half animated, half live action?

What kind of shoes are those. #maildoug
— @akvvt
These?

Adidas NMD R1s, I think?

Is this another way of saying, “What are those?!” I like those shoes. I bought them off the Instagram account @sneakersteal.

#maildoug Are we sure Matt Slater makes this team?
— @MrQuindazzi
Yup. Pretty sure.

Do you want to swing by my Labor Day cookout on Sunday? #MailDoug
— @Kid_From_Quincy
I’ll be busy with practice squad signings Sunday. Sorry. Maybe next time.

Could Brandon King get the Brandon Bolden treatment? Released at cutdowns but back a few days later after some roster tweaking? #MailDoug
— @BryanThiel_88
Nope. That worked with Bolden because he’s a vested veteran. King would have to pass through waivers, and there’s a good chance he would be claimed. The Patriots could try the same move this offseason with Bolden, cornerback Jason McCourty or even tight end Dwayne Allen.

Who will be this seasons breakout player?
— @RJ27621864
I would expect Dorsett and tight end Jacob Hollister to make the biggest jumps from last year.

Who is the raising star on defense for the pats this year?
— @BSimonds21
Linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley is the strongest candidate. Maybe a young cornerback like JC Jackson?

Everyone is worried about WR depth but am I wrong to think with Hightower’s injury history the LB position is thin
— @randy_kimball
It is a bit thin, and I’m not sure how high my concern level is quite yet, but Dont’a Hightower hasn’t looked like himself in the preseason. I thought he was moving a little slow at times. We’ll see if his play picks up in the regular season, but it’s something to watch.

Sup?
— @June__NYC
My daughter’s 1 now. I did a fantasy draft. It’s way too hot in Massachusetts. And when you’re reading this, I’ll probably be driving to New Jersey with a couple of my beat writer pals to cover Thursday night’s game against the Giants.

That’s about it.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images

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