The New England Patriots, at least on paper, are pretty strong across the board as the 2019 NFL season nears.
The reigning Super Bowl champions boast arguably the strongest running-back and secondary depth charts in the league. They have an above-average offensive line and their quarterback is pretty good, too.
There is one facet of New England’s roster that presents some uncertainty heading into the new campaign, though.
It’s tough to project what the Patriots will receive from their collection of pass-catchers. Julian Edelman sits atop the group, but outside of the Super Bowl LIII MVP, Tom Brady doesn’t really have any sure-handed targets at his disposal. As such, NFL.com ranks New England’s receiving corps as the third-thinnest position group in the league.
“Future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski is retired, former Browns tease Josh Gordon remains suspended, ageless free-agent acquisition Ben Watson is facing his own four-game ban and multiple fallback options have already backfired at tight end,” Chris Wesseling writes. “Tom Brady can take solace in the presence of Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman, but the rest of the depth chart is littered with rookies, scrap-heap hopefuls, developmental projects and special teamers. Brady has helped turn the likes of Jabar Gaffney, David Givens, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Mitchell into playoff heroes. On the flip side, he’s notorious for freezing newcomers out of the offense if they can’t be trusted to make the right route reads. As a soon-to-be 42-year-old with a declining fastball and limited mobility, Brady is being asked to carry too much of the burden on this roster. Don’t be surprised if Bill Belichick is shopping for receivers at the trade deadline for the second straight October.”
Despite the warranted question mark, there’s reason for some level of optimism regarding the Patriots’ air attack. N’Keal Harry will enter his rookie season with tremendous upside, and veteran wideout Demaryius Thomas could make an impact if he’s able to stay healthy. Not to mention, the bulk of New England’s RBs, including rookie Damien Harris, are capable pass-catchers out of the backfield.
So fear not, Patriots fans. It likely will be business as usual in Foxboro in 2019.
Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images