Patriots Mailbag: Is Slot Receiver Of The Future On Current Roster?


May 29, 2020

The New England Patriots could have a longer offseason workout program than usual even if they never take the field for practice this spring.

The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed that the offseason workout period can extend until June 26. That’s roughly a week or two later than it usually wraps up, especially for the Patriots who typically cut it early.

Training camp is set to start a little bit later than normal, but NFL teams usually get about six weeks between the end of OTAs and minicamp and the start of training camp. If the offseason workout period extends until June 26, then that would leave only be five weeks before training camp is set to begin.

Granted, this year is a little bit different since players usually have to go through weeks of spring practices. But it’s still a shorter break in between NFL activities.

Watch above and read below for this week’s mailbag.

If we see one of the UDFA WR step up in training camp is Sanu cut for cap space? Or stay with the veteran?
I understand why there are so many questions about Mohamed Sanu getting cut. If the Patriots release him, they’d free up $6.5 million. I just don’t think it’s realistic, and there are other ways to free up cap space.

When the Patriots dealt a second-round pick for Sanu, they were doing so, in part, because he had two years left on his deal, and it’s not like they’re now caught by surprise by his 2020 cap hit. I don’t want to say the Patriots are going to justify the trade by keeping Sanu in 2020, but I also think the investment they made by trading away that second-round pick will play into their decision to ultimately keep him this season.

Basically, the Patriots knew what they were signing up for when they traded for Sanu. And just because he struggled in half of the 2019 season — while dealing with an ankle injury — doesn’t mean the same will happen in 2020. If Sanu winds up being a solid No. 2 or 3 receiver, then he’s worth his $6.5 million salary.

The only way I see him getting cut is if he really struggles in training camp and the preseason and gets significantly outperformed by multiple other players.

Any thoughts on if Sony will be better in a Brady less offense. Can they change there running game looks with stidham being more mobile. I loved Sony at Georgia. Always curious if the Georgia run game differs from Pats.
Unless something dramatic happens this season, then the Patriots will always be a team that uses a combination of zone- and power-rushing schemes.

With Jarrett Stidham’s mobility, I could potentially see the Patriots’ offense getting more “modern” with run-pass options and zone-read looks. Those could potentially help Michel from an unpredictability standpoint. A healthy fullback, whether that’s Danny Vitale, Jakob Johnson or a tight end-convert, will also help Michel.

As long as Michel can beat out Damien Harris for the lead back job, then I believe he’ll have a bounceback season. I, personally, would like to see what Harris can offer. I think Michel mostly takes what’s given to him. If Harris can do a better job of creating yards on his own, then he could be an upgrade in the backfield.

-Past success the Pats have had with ST players.
-Would it really be a surprise if Byrd and Vitale Breakout?
-Times are changing just hopeful they have success with same type of players.
I guess that depends on what you define as breaking out. I can’t see Vitale having any more than 25 touches, and I think Damiere Byrd might have reached his ceiling last season with 32 catches for 359 yards.

If Vitale and Byrd break out, then ultimately that means that something went wrong. That means that the Patriots’ rookie tight ends and some of their wide receivers with higher upside didn’t perform as expected.

Was there ever a resolution to the video recording of the Bengals sideline? I thought it was supposed to have been ruled on before the draft, but I don’t remember hearing anything of it.
Nope. It’s a complete joke that the NFL still hasn’t resolved the case.

The NFL was digging as hard as they possibly could to find some wrongdoing by the Patriots’ team. They already know what New England’s TV crew did because the Patriots announced it themselves.

The fact that we still haven’t seen a conclusion means the NFL hasn’t found anything that we don’t already know.

What needs to happen for Will Hastings to make the roster?
He needs to prove that he can be the Patriots’ slot receiver of the future. It’s that simple.

The Patriots have been looking for that guy for years and years and years and haven’t found him yet.

Jeremy Ebert, T.J. Moe, Josh Boyce, Jeremy Gallon, Austin Carr, Riley McCarron and Braxton Berrios couldn’t be the next Troy Brown, Wes Welker, Julian Edelman or Danny Amendola. Maybe Hastings, Jeff Thomas, Sean Riley, Jakobi Meyers or Gunner Olszewski can. There are some intriguing candidates in there.

Hastings has the advantage of having worked with Stidham, and developing a strong relationship with the QB, at Auburn. That should help him as he tries to earn a roster spot. If the Patriots turn to a player like Meyers or Sanu in the slot, then that means they’ve changed their prototype for that role into a bigger body type.

The Patriots also could utilize more two-tight end sets with third-round picks Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi now on the roster.

Hastings and Thomas are two really intriguing undrafted free agents, however, and the Patriots need to find that next guy who can get open and beat man coverage on third and 6.

Do you think N’keal Harry breakout this year ? Could he be that number one guy ?
I’m still penciling in Julian Edelman as the Patriots’ No. 1 guy, but Harry certainly has that potential.

Harry will be better this season than he was as a rookie, but that’s also a really, really low bar. I’d be slightly surprised if Harry cracked 1,000 receiving yards. I think something in the 600-to-800 range is more realistic.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Stidham or Hoyer week 1?

Will Gilmore retire a Patriot?
My guess would be no.

Too early/late in the week for a #MailDoug, @DougKyed?

Danny Vitale had 7 catches and 1 rushing attempt in 15 games last year with the Packers. Assuming he makes the roster, where is the over/under for him this season in New England?
I’m setting the over/under at 18 total touches. That’s how many James Develin had in 2018.

Biggest wild card for the season? #MailDoug
It has to be Stidham, right? If he’s good, the Patriots are good. If he’s bad, then the Patriots are probably bad.

If you’re wearing a sweater and begin sweating, do you become the sweater?
You become the sweater in a sweater.

Enjoying the summer weather.

R movie theaters going to open by July 4 ?
Seems unlikely. Drive-ins will be, though!

Are Reese’s the best candy? #MailDoug
No, but they’re definitely up there.

I think my favorite candy is a Cadbury Creme Egg or Swedish Fish.

Know what I haven’t had in a while? Sour Patch Kids watermelons. Those are great too.

Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images
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