According to multiple reports, the New England Patriots are scheduled to hold visits / workouts with three free agents today: veteran wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh as well as safeties Darren Sharper and Renaldo Hill.
The workout of T.J. Houshmandzadeh is an interesting one, to say the least. The former long-time teammate of Chad Ochocinco spent his 2010 season with the Baltimore Ravens, where he caught 30 passes for 389 yards and three touchdowns. The year prior, with the Seahawks, "Housh" pulled in 79 grabs. At 6'2", 203 lbs, Houshmandzadeh isn't a burner, but he's still a solid possession receiver who could be a good number three or number four receiver for a team.
That being said, the Patriots already have a logjam at wide receiver, so the need to bring a player like Houshmandzadeh wouldn't seem to prevalent. However, the Patriots have had three young receivers go down due to injury recently; Taylor Price, Julian Edelman, and Brandon Tate. Could it be possible that these injuries are more serious than people had previously presumed?
Working out safeties Renaldo Hill and Darren Sharper make sense from both a personnel and possible upgrade standpoint. There have been rumors that the Patriots haven't been happy with the play of Pro Bowl safety Brandon Meriweather, and may be looking for some more insurance at that position. In addition, James Sanders has been held out of practice with an undisclosed injury. Throw in the fact that the team recently released Brandon McGowan and Ross Ventrone, and you have a situation where the team could most certainly use an extra body at the position.
Darren Sharper was prolific for the Saints in 2009, but missed a good portion of the 2010 season due to microfracture arthroscopic surgery on his left knee. He wasn't really the same player. However, an extra year removed from surgery, perhaps the Patriots want to see where Sharper stands in his recovery. Turning 36 later this year, the Patriots wouldn't expect anything long term from Sharper. However, for one year, he could be a potential steadying option in the secondary, that could also help mentor Brandon Meriweather into a more fine-tuned player.
Renaldo Hill, 32, has a lot of starting experience at safety in the NFL. Spending the last two years in Denver, Hill has also seen time in Miami, Oakland, and Arizona. Hill recorded 63 tackles and two interceptions last season for the Broncos. Conceivably, Hill could be a good insurance option should Brandon Meriweather struggle at any point in 2011.