Patriots Mailbag: Pats Should Look To Acquire Receiver For Present, Future

Why New England should look into trading for Allen Robinson or Odell Beckham Jr.

by Doug Kyed

Sep 18, 2020

As if playing football in a world pandemic wasn’t challenging enough, now the New England Patriots must monitor air quality prior to their Week 2 matchup with the Seattle Seahawks because of the fires tragically raging up and down the West Coast.

Seattle Mariners games have been moved over concerns about air quality. The Patriots are still set to take on the Seahawks in Seattle, but if there’s any question about the conditions, then the easy choice would be to move the game. The Seahawks aren’t allowing fans in the stadium anyway, so moving the game to a neutral site wouldn’t be a significant disadvantage. It would definitely be an inconvenience for the Seahawks to travel one more game, but the Patriots are currently set to arrive in Seattle on Friday. Time is running out to make a decision.

It seems like the smart choice would be the safe one.

What’s your opinion on a realistic and best trade option at receiver for the Pats this year?

First of all, for once, I’m fully on board with the Patriots trading for a wide receiver. They need one. They could use an upgrade over Damiere Byrd as a starter, and acquiring a player like Allen Robinson or Odell Beckham Jr. would allow Julian Edelman to take on more of a reduced role without the offense suffering as a result.

Also, by trading for a wide receiver like Robinson or Beckham, the Patriots would help to set themselves up for the future at the position. It looked like next offseason would have a stacked free-agent wide receiver class. Now those free agents-to-be are starting to sign longterm extensions with their current organizations. Keenan Allen and Cooper Kupp now are locked up for the future. Robinson wants to be next. JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chris Godwin and Kenny Golladay all could be close behind. Who’s going to be left by March when free agency begins?

Acquiring Robinson, for example, would give the Patriots exclusive negotiating rights for a long-term contract with a talented young receiver. The ability to come to an agreement with Robinson is an advantage. And the Patriots have cap space.

I also wouldn’t hesitate to give up a 2021 draft capital. There isn’t going to be any 2020 film on half of the players in the 2021 NFL Draft. I’d take a veteran like Robinson or Beckham over a first-round pick in next year’s draft.

Hey Doug!
Who do you see as the better blocking TE right now, Izzo or Asiasi? Also, whats up with Uche??

I would say Ryan Izzo is the better blocking tight end based on what we saw Week 1 against the Miami Dolphins. We also never really got to see Devin Asiasi as a blocker in training camp.

As for the reason why Josh Uche was inactive in Week 1, here’s my guess: The Patriots didn’t run a single defensive snap in their base defense. They played 17 snaps with seven defensive backs on the field and another 26 in dime. The Patriots didn’t really need Uche, who’s an inside linebacker. And if they were going to dress a linebacker, it was going to be a player like Brandon Copeland who’s going to be a core special teams player this season.

I suspect we see Uche soon, but it might not be in Week 2. He didn’t practice Thursday because of an ankle injury.

How has beat reporting changed in light of covid-19 access restrictions? I would expect lots of tips and quotes on background came from locker room access which I’d guess ya’ll no longer have? #MailDoug

Yeah, it’s an adjustment. The toughest thing for me is that you can’t walk into a locker room and talk to anyone you want. When I’d write a feature story on a player, I might pull aside a different player for just one or two questions to fill out the story. That’s not really possible right now since all 53 guys on the roster aren’t talking every week.

The Patriots have done a tremendous job giving us as much access as humanly possible. But there are limits, and I miss getting to know players while standing around the locker room every day for 45 minutes.

Since they moved next year’s cash to this year in order to give him a raise, what does that mean for Gilmore and the Patriots in 2021?

They’ll be right back where they started next offseason. The options for Stephon Gilmore and the Patriots next year are pay raise, extension, trade or cut depending on how the rest of this season goes.

But yeah, the Patriots basically just pushed his money up from 2021 into 2020. So, something must be done next year. I can’t imagine Gilmore being happy with the way his contract is currently constructed. New England issued a quick fix. The tough decision comes next offseason.

A lot of people were down on N’keal Harry on the fumble. I was impressed he got 5 catches. That’s a major step forward. What do you think about Harry? #MailDoug

I’m somewhere in between.

I don’t think N’Keal Harry is entirely to blame for his lack of production. It was good to see him catch five passes. But I’m not sure if I would call five catches for 39 yards with a fumble and yards left on the field a major step forward.

He was a 2019 first-round pick. It’s not like we’re talking about an undrafted free agent here.

The Patriots need to start targeting Harry deeper or do an even better job of getting him the ball in space. I want to see what Harry can do catching a slant with room to run. I think he has potential on back-shoulder fades. The Patriots need to find a way to get Harry to average more than 4.8 career yards per target. They’re better off running every play than throwing to Harry taking into account the inherent risk of passing the ball.

Not to keep playing this game, but Seattle Seahawks wide receiver D.K. Metcalf, who was taken 32 picks after Harry, is averaging 9.2 yards per target in his NFL career. Deebo Samuel (9.9 y/tgt), A.J. Brown (11.8 y/tgt), Mecole Hardman (13 y/tgt), Diontae Johnson (7.2 y/tgt), Terry McLaurin (9.8 y/tgt), Hunter Renfrow (8.6 y/tgt) and Darius Slayton (9.1 t/tgt) all were drafted after Harry and are producing much more efficient results on a per/throw basis.

You can’t have a receiver averaging fewer than 5 yards per target. You either need that player to start catching a higher percentage of passes or he needs to be targeted deeper. Those are the options moving forward with Harry.

Let’s go rapid fire.

Thuney trade still option with Onwenu looking good in first game?

Not if the Patriots are in contention. Mike Onwenu might have a bright future at guard or offensive tackle, but the Patriots need an athletic left guard like Joe Thuney if they’re going to keep running option plays.

Hungo Bungo
Hi, Doug. Do you have a favorite Nic Cage movie? If so what is it and why is it The Rock?

Does “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” count? If so, that.

Are we still able to call up two players from the PS on Sunday?

Yes. I kind of doubt it happens this week, though.

Is it fair to say that cam can better help 2nd year players like jakobi or Nkeal in that he won’t give up on them as quick

Short answer: Yes.

You see cam able to sustain 15 rushes a game for 16 game? #maildoug

Not a chance. That would be 256 rushing attempts over 16 games. The most carries Newton has had in a single season came in 2017, when he rushed 139 times for 754 yards. That was just 8.7 rushing attempts per game. So, expect Newton’s carries to be cut in half moving forward.

Of all former Patriots nominated for HOF who has the best shot of getting in?

There are some good ones on the list: Wes Welker, Steven Jackson, Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo, Drew Bledsoe, Larry Centers, Corey Dillon, Fred Taylor, Torry Holt, Chad Johnson, Ben Coates, Brian Waters, Richard Seymour, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, Rodney Harrison, John Lynch and Asante Samuel.

Seymour is the answer. He’s the most deserving.


Not a whole lot. Just getting ready to cover my first regular-season game at home since 2013. I’m getting a new TV, a new desk chair and another cable box. I think I’ll have a good setup.

Ranch or blue cheese. Drums or flats.

Ranch. Flats.

Does the Dolegala signing spell trouble for STUDham?

It does not. The Patriots basically just have an excess number of practice squad spots right now. They were already granted six extra spots this season, bringing the total number up to 16. Factor in the fact that the Patriots also have placed four players on injured reserve and replaced them on their 53-man roster with practice squaders. So, the Patriots are essentially already rostering 10 extra practice squad players this year.

So, why not use one on a developmental quarterback? If Jake Dolegala doesn’t impress, he’ll likely be gone when Damien Harris, Beau Allen, Gunner Olszewski and Yodny Cajuste return off of injured reserve.

Who lines up vs who in the secondary on Sunday night? #MailDoug

My guess would be:

Gilmore on Metcalf
A combination of Patriots cornerbacks JC Jackson and Jonathan Jones on Seahawks receiver Tyler Lockett
Patriots defensive back Joejuan Williams on Seahawks tight end Greg Olsen

Doug, can I ask you three questions?

No, that’s against the rules.

Favorite Disney movie?
What has many keys but can’t open a single lock?

Probably “The Lion King” or “D2: The Mighty Ducks.”

And I don’t know, a bunch of a monkeys and donkeys?

Thumbnail photo via Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports Images

Thumbnail photo via Quinn Harris/USA TODAY Sports Images
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