Patriots Free Agency 2013: Who Would You Rather Have?

Matthew Stockman

In a perfect world, which receiver would you like to see the Patriots go after?

We all know what they say about assuming: all it does is make an ass out of you and me. However, since I make an ass out of myself on a regular basis anyway, what do I really have to lose? Plus, it's one of the slowest times on the football calendar, so I might as well speculate now while there's nothing definitive to report on. Why not play some what ifs?

With the latest rumors surrounding Percy Harvin and the New England Patriots as a potential landing spot for him, I started thinking about two other pending free agent receivers that I would love to see in a Pats uniform - Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe. While there are several good receivers about to hit the market in a few weeks (Danny Amendola, Greg Jennings, and Brian Hartline immediately come to mind), in my opinion Bowe and Wallace are the premier receivers not named Wes Welker out there. I was hoping against hope that the Pats would at least make a play for either Wallace or Bowe, especially if Welker does end up taking his talents elsewhere. However, with Harvin now potentially in the mix, which direction New England could go in becomes a little more cloudy.

Time to make some assumptions.

Let's assume that, for whatever reason, New England just can't work out a deal with Wes Welker, and he walks. Suddenly, wide receiver is an absolutely massive priority for this team, which greatly increases the chances of the Patriots aggressively pursuing a trade for Percy Harvin. And while initial reports point to it being unlikely that he comes to New England, let's just assume that they are able to get him for a decent price (maybe a 2nd and 6th round pick for Harvin and a 5th rounder). And let's also assume that the Patriots offer enough appeal to Harvin that he is willing to sign with the team for a reasonable amount of money. So, if the Patriots want Harvin, they can have him.

But lets' also assume that both Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe, also about to become free agents, express their desire to play for Bill Belichick, and each receiver can be had without breaking the bank. While the odds of my dream of signing both Bowe/Wallace and Harvin coming true are only slightly higher than my dream of refereeing a tickle fight between Mila Kunis and Megan Fox, it would definitely be feasible for the Patriots to sign one of these three players.

So, should this dream scenario actually play out, and the team can only sign one receiver, who would you rather have?

Of the three receivers on the table, Harvin has the most upside. He's the youngest receiver by at least two years, he's fast, he's versatile, and he would help to fill the Welker void as the primary slot receiver. Harvin would likely thrive in Josh McDaniels' offense, and he is exactly the kind of player that Belichick looks for. However, as great as Harvin is, he isn't the deep threat that Bowe and Wallace are, and his presence won't really add an entirely new dimension to the Patriots offense. Harvin would thrive in the slot, but New England would still have trouble stretching the field and taking safeties deep.

With Wallace and Bowe, New England would certainly be getting that deep threat. Both receivers are fast, can stretch the field, and would make the Patriots offense lethal as Gronk, Hernandez, and Edelman work the middle routes while one of them went deep. Having a big, speedy receiver is exactly what this team needs, and while having a deep threat isn't as effective without a player like Welker in the lineup to work the under routes, each of these players has enough talent so that the dropoff wouldn't be too severe.

Personally If given the choice between Wallace and Bowe, I'm taking Bowe every single time. At 28, he's two years older than Wallace (he'll be 29 this September), but I think he's a more complete receiver with a more refined route tree. Bowe is also an absolute monster in the red zone, and lining him up as the X receiver in a 3 TE set that includes Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Jake Ballard will make the Patriots a nightmare to defend around the goal line. Bowe doesn't have the pure speed that Wallace does, but he has a few inches and about 20 pounds on him, and has had continued success as a receiver despite spending his career catching balls from Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn. I'd love for him to be around for the remainder of Tommy B's career.

So while it would be a difficult choice, as Harvin is younger and more versatile, I'd like to see the team go after Dwayne Bowe should all the cards fall their way. But that's just me, and I have a funny feeling that I could be convinced otherwise.

What do you think? Which of these three receivers would you like to see on the Patriots in 2013?

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