The Patriots need an explosive receiver who can stretch the field, and Will Fuller, who can take the top off any defense, will be available next week.
But does the veteran wideout make sense for New England? Probably not.
Fuller, drafted 21st overall by the Houston Texans in 2016, has compiled a long injury list over six seasons in the NFL. The Notre Dame product has played in more than 11 games just once and never has put together a full season. Fuller missed half of the 2018 campaign due to a torn ACL and sat out the rest of the 2021 season after breaking his finger in Week 4.
After spending five seasons with the Texans, Fuller signed a one-year, prove-it deal with the Dolphins last offseason and, one year later, his stock has bottomed out. Some might say that makes the 27-year-old an intriguing buy-low option for the Patriots — Fuller’s per-17 game averages are 66 catches, 969 yards and seven touchdowns — but it’s hard to envision Bill Belichick spending money on a receiver who almost certainly will miss time next season.
Nevertheless, Fuller is a talented player worth talking about with NFL free agency set to begin next Wednesday. Let’s look at cases for and against the Patriots adding him this offseason.
When healthy, Fuller is a dangerous deep threat who could be an upgrade over Nelson Agholor, who disappointed in his first season with the Patriots. If he’s willing to sign a prove-it, incentive-laden deal for $1-2 million, the Patriots should at least consider it.
Every once in a while, players who battle injuries throughout their careers put it all together and enjoy a narrative-changing season. Hunter Henry did just that in 2021, playing the first full season of his career. Perhaps Fuller, who never has had as much success as Henry and whose injury history is even worse than that of the Patriots tight end, is about to enjoy such a season.
Fuller could be a low-risk, high-reward play, the kind of which the Patriots have taken on over the years.
You’ve heard it ad nauseam: Belichick’s favorite ability is availability. Fuller has missed a combined 42 regular-season games since entering the league, establishing himself as one of the league’s preeminent unavailable players.
Plus, are we even sure he’s better than Agholor? Both players have high-end speed, but Agholor might be the more versatile route-runner. It’s easy to envision Agholor enjoying a strong bounce-back season in Year 2 with Mac Jones.
That said, it’s unlikely the Patriots would replace Agholor with someone as unreliable as Fuller. A more likely scenario would be New England, after potentially moving on from N’Keal Harry, adding Fuller to compete for the No. 3/4 receiver spot. However, in that scenario, the Patriots would be swapping one unreliable receiver for another, while getting older at the position. It wouldn’t make sense.
No matter which way you slice it, Fuller wouldn’t be a good fit in New England, despite his obvious talent.