Did Bill Belichick Hint Reason For Mohamed Sanu’s Release Ahead Of Time?

Sanu's release will save the Patriots $6.5 million

by Sean T. McGuire

September 2, 2020

On the day that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick explained what he was looking for most at the wide receiver position, the organization reportedly informed Mohamed Sanu it was releasing him.

Sanu, who the Patriots traded for a second-round pick midway through the 2019 season, played just eight games in New England. He recorded 26 catches for 207 yards and one touchdown. He was, however, impacted by a high ankle sprain and never quite looked right.

Belichick said Wednesday that production and performance, along with consistency, were the most important factors from those playing the receiver position. Perhaps it’s fair to say he wasn’t seeing them from Sanu, who reportedly had a fairly quiet training camp.

“… More than the physical skillset really is the position that the receivers play. So, we have outside receivers and we have inside receivers and then have receivers that can, let?s say, play both or have some combination of skills where they can play both spots. All three are important. Some guys can be outside only, some guys can be inside only, some guys can have that flexibility,” Belichick told reporters during a video conference Wednesday, prior to Sanu’s release.

“In the end, I think it?s really more about production and performance, although size and skillset plays a part in that, as well. They are related, but really the most important thing is to be productive,” Belichick continued. “… Competition at that position has been good. As always, that?s the type of position where you can really see an individual highlight play or a play that may not be as good — a dropped ball or a spectacular catch — and those plays are a lot more visible and really easily identifiable relative to an interior line play or that type of thing.

“Now, again, with that position, it?s important to develop consistency. There?s a lot of time receivers are open, but the ball is thrown to the other side of the field or they?re covered, and so that?s all part of it, too. It?s not just those highlight plays that everybody sees but really the evaluation of the player?s consistency to win his route or block the player that he?s supposed to block in the running game as part of the run force and so forth. I think there are a lot of things at that position that are subtle to the naked eye, and it really comes down to, again, that play-after-play consistency. The highlight plays stand out — and they?re important, too, one way or the other — but I would say the consistency overall is also something that you can?t lose sight of,” Belichick concluded.

Another notable factor to mention in Sanu’s case is the financial benefit. The Patriots will save $6.5 million with the move, though, the loss of a second round pick for just eight games likely will be tough to swallow.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images

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