I figure with the bye week and the lack of a decided opponent there is little to talk about. So I present to you this idea typically reserved for offseason discussions. It is time for the Patriots to focus on a wide receiver project. I know, I know, not a mind blowing idea. Also, really a repeat of what the Pats have been trying to accomplish the last few years but hear me out.
Thanks to the stats I poached from Mark Farinella's article we can see that the tight ends (Gronkandez) accounted for 42.7 percent of the passing yards along with 25 of the 57 offensive touchdowns scored this year. Add in Welker and he accounts for another 30 percent and 9 touchdowns. So those three players are already handling 72.7 percent of the offense and 34 of the 57 scores. Considering 17 of the remaining touchdowns was run in by a RB or by TFB, that leaves only 6 scores handled by the rest of the receiving crew. The only receiver after "the big three" that has respectable production is Deion Branch and he looks old. Deion accounted for roughly 15% of the yards and 5 of those 6 remaining touchdowns. If you from here total all the remaining pass yards to wide receivers it is virtually equal to that of the receiving yards of our runningbacks, 386 to 363 respectively.
What I propose the Pats should do in the offseason is clean house at the wide receiver position. Obviously, it's important to resign Welker but the likes of Ochocinco, Deion Branch and Tiquan Underwood are either too old or just not talented enough. The offense is going to move with this solid corps of tightends and runningbacks. As long as we can keep our slot guy in Welker there isn't a better time than now to be training young blood in this offense. Ditching Deion and Ocho will save the team money so they can spend it elsewhere and the offense still has enough pieces that it wouldn't be hindered by a couple of guys learning on the job. More specifically, the rookies would be able to come in and not have very important playing time being taken by veterans. They would have ample opportunity to develop their skills in a live game atmosphere.
None of the rookie projects in the past have really been able to grow in this TE heavy offense. The WRs had always been an extremely important aspect of the offense and it was very important they all were working in concert since we rarely had superstars to take the majority of the targets. At this point, I believe this offense is going to function wether the outside receivers are experienced or not, it already runs from inside the numbers out.
I know many of you wouldn't be sad to see Ocho go but I think it should be a strong consideration to bounce Deion too.
Edit: Edelman and Slater I didn't factor in for being cut or traded on the basis that they serve other roles on the team and their value is obvious.