Is Patriots’ Receiver ‘Need’ Worth Reevaluating After Offensive Explosion?

Do the Patriots still need to trade for a wide receiver?

by Doug Kyed

September 23, 2020

Cam Newton’s leadership extends far beyond nicknames, handshakes and social media comments. When asked if he’d like to see the Patriots make a trade for another pass-catcher, Newton stayed fiercely loyal to his current crop of wideouts, telling WEEI that all the help he needs already exists on the roster.

The Patriots’ offense looked pretty good with Newton throwing to Highway 11 (Julian Edelman), Doughboy (N’Keal Harry), Lil Bud (Damiere Byrd) and MyGerms (Jakobi Meyers) in New England’s Week 2 loss to the Seattle Seahawks, but does that really mean they don’t need OBJ and A-Rob?

Well, no. But maybe the Patriots’ need to trade for a wide receiver of Odell Beckham Jr.’s or Allen Robinson’s caliber isn’t quite as dire as it appeared a week ago when Edelman looked all of 34 years old, Harry was still playing like a rookie and Byrd went untargeted.

Edelman set a career-high (!) with 179 receiving yards on eight catches Sunday night against Seattle. Let’s take a moment to reflect on that, because that’s absolutely bonkers. Few wide receivers have ever possessed the level of chemistry Edelman had with Tom Brady. And in his second game with Newton, the veteran wideout already is setting career highs? If that doesn’t tell you that Edelman deserves mention with all of the No. 1 wide receivers across the NFL, nothing will.

But he’s still 34, and older players are inherent injury risks.

Harry and Byrd each totaled 72 receiving yards Sunday night. That was a career-high for Harry on another personal mark of eight catches. Byrd seriously impressed with his quicks and route-running ability though he and Newton need to work on their chemistry on quick out routes.

Harry said Newton’s comment Tuesday morning “brings everybody together.”

?You know, it?s good to have trust from our quarterback,” Harry said. “At the end of the day, as receivers, we just want to make him as comfortable as possible, and when he drops back he has faith in every single one of us that he can trust us to come down with the ball. It?s really encouraging.?

By the way, that wasn’t a verbal subtweet at Brady. Harry said later in his media availability that “Tom wanted me to succeed just as much.” It is hard not to think of Brady’s incessant desire for better weapons while writing about Newton’s ability to instantly click with new teammates, however.

The Patriots’ passing attack was clicking Sunday. They’ll look better when running back James White, who was inactive Sunday due to the sudden and tragic loss of his father, is able to return. New England should be able to get more out of its tight end position when rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene continue to acclimate. Running back Damien Harris is a more complete option than Sony Michel, so he also could help Newton out through check-downs, swing passes and screens.

But if the Patriots have the opportunity to acquire a top-tier wide receiver, they should still jump at it. New England wound up losing to the Seahawks, but it also proved it can keep up with a very, very good team in that game. A top-level wide receiver would only make the Patriots more dangerous and able to withstand any potential injuries at the position.

Lower-level help might not be warranted as long as Harry and Byrd aren’t one-week wonders. But no one should say no to acquiring a top-level pass catcher, whether that’s Beckham, Robinson or a tight end like Zach Ertz, just because Byrd gained 72 yards in a shootout.

Thumbnail photo via Brian Fluharty/USA TODAY Sports Images

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