Patriots’ Receiving Corps Has Devastating Potential After Antonio Brown Addition

During joint practices with the Tennessee Titans in mid-August, the New England Patriots’ receivers were Jakobi Meyers, Braxton Berrios, Dontrelle Inman, Gunner Olszewski, Ryan Davis and Damoun Patterson.

What a difference a month makes.

Since arriving home from Nashville, the Patriots have gotten Julian Edelman (thumb) back from the non-football injury list, Demaryius Thomas (Achilles) back from the physically unable to perform list and Josh Gordon back from suspension.

Oh, and they just added Antonio Brown, who, despite the off-the-field nonsense that torpedoed his brief Oakland Raiders tenure, remains one of the NFL’s most talented wideouts.

While acknowledging this group could change as the Patriots make the necessary transactions to fit Brown into their 53-man roster, here’s a quick snapshot of the Patriots’ current receiving corps following the former Pittsburgh Steeler’s arrival:

Antonio Brown
Age: 31
Accolades: seven-time Pro Bowler, four-time first-team All-Pro, one-time second-team All-Pro
2018 stats: 104 catches, 168 targets, 1,297 yards, 15 touchdowns in 15 games
Career stats: 837 catches, 11,207 yards, 74 touchdowns

Brown finished with fewer receiving yards than breakout star JuJu Smith-Schuster in Pittsburgh last season, but he led the NFL in touchdown receptions. His 74 touchdown catches since he entered the league in 2010 rank second behind only Rob Gronkowski during that span. The Patriots open the regular season against Brown’s old team, the Steelers, on Sunday night, but he will not be eligible to play until Week 2 at the earliest.

Julian Edelman
Age: 33
Accolades: Super Bowl LIII MVP
2018 stats: 74 catches, 108 targets, 850 yards, six touchdowns in 12 games
Career stats: 499 catches, 5,390 yards, 30 touchdowns

Edelman is Brady’s favorite target and one of the most productive receivers in Patriots and NFL playoff history. He missed training camp and most of the preseason with a broken thumb but is good to go for Week 1.

Josh Gordon
Age: 28
Accolades: one-time Pro Bowler, one-time first-team All-Pro
2018 stats: 40 catches, 68 targets, 720 yards, three touchdowns in 11 games
Career stats: 220 catches, 3,826 yards, 19 touchdowns

Gordon’s preseason reinstatement was a pleasant surprise for Patriots fans. The former Cleveland Browns standout is New England’s most physically gifted pass-catcher and put up impressive numbers for the team last season, but his history of suspensions and off-field struggles — he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since 2012 — make him difficult to rely upon.

Demaryius Thomas
Age: 31
Accolades: five-time Pro Bowler, two-time second-team All-Pro
2018 stats: 59 catches, 89 targets, 677 yards, five touchdowns in 15 games
Career stats: 688 catches, 9,330 yards, 62 touchdowns

Thomas isn’t the perennial 1,000-yard receiver he was during his glory years with the Denver Broncos, but his experience and 6-foot-3 frame should make him a valuable weapon for New England if he can remain healthy. He looked good against New York Giants reserves in his lone preseason appearance, catching seven passes on eight targets for 87 yards and two touchdowns last Thursday.

Phillip Dorsett
Age: 26
2018 stats: 32 catches, 42 targets, 290 yards, three touchdowns in 16 games
Career stats: 95 catches, 1,237 yards, six touchdowns

He won’t post gaudy numbers, but Dorsett has the trust of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady — a highly desirable trait for Patriots receivers. His 76.2 percent catch rate in 2018 led all New England wideouts and ranked fourth league-wide among receivers with 40-plus targets.

Jakobi Meyers
Age: 22
2018 stats: N/A

It remains to be seen how the Patriots will use Meyers, an undrafted rookie who flashed during training camp and dominated in the preseason. If Edelman, Brown, Gordon and Thomas all are active, targets for the North Carolina State product will be hard to come by.

Gunner Olszewski
Age: 22
2018 stats: N/A

The former Division 2 cornerback is a prime candidate to be released to free up a roster spot for Brown. Even if he sticks around, Olszewski is unlikely to make much of an impact offensively as a rookie, though he could have a role as a punt/kick returner.

First-round draft pick N’Keal Harry currently is on injured reserve. He’s eligible to return in Week 9. Veteran newcomer Cameron Meredith is on the reserve/physically unable to perform list and can return in Week 7.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images