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Explaining why the Patriots claimed Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd off of waivers

A disappointing season plus a recent DUI arrest led to the Arizona Cardinals releasing the talented WR. The Patriots claimed Michael Floyd on waivers.

Living out in Arizona, the Cardinals get a lot of attention locally. One of the biggest story lines for the Cardinals is a disappointing season, with WR Michael Floyd being the poster child. After struggling to the tune of 33 catches for 446 yards and 4 TD after a big 2015, the former first round pick was arrested for DUI after being passed out drunk at an intersection. The Cardinals elected to cut their talented, but inconsistent WR after the arrest on Tuesday, placing him on waivers. Floyd managed to last all the way down to the 31st waiver priority, where the Patriots claimed him off of waivers.

The Patriots are paying the final three weeks of Floyd’s 5th year option, costing a total of $1.83M. I was surprised to see the Patriots put in a waiver claim on Floyd with only three regular season games and how complex the Patriots offense was. If the Patriots had waited until the offseason and picked up Floyd to give him a full offseason and camp to pick up the playbook, it would make more sense. That could be the goal for Bill Belichick to re-sign the talented WR for 2017 and rehabilitate his image like he’s done with Randy Moss, Corey Dillon, Rodney Harrison, and Aqib Talib. For Floyd, it would be a great opportunity to work with the best QB in the NFL and play for the best team in the NFL before seeking big money opportunities in the offseason. It worked for Talib, it should work for Floyd whose off the field troubles were less significant than Talib’s.

This is an expensive move for the Patriots, although they can afford it with just under $8M in cap space before the claim. With the Patriots set to travel to Denver tomorrow, there is zero chance that Floyd is active for the Patriots in Week 15. With very limited knowledge in a similar offense from his early Notre Dame days under former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis, there is going to be some time necessary for Floyd to get up to speed. The earliest he probably plays is Week 17 against the Miami Dolphins, who the Cardinals just recently played. I have to think that the Patriots checked in with Weis and gave Belichick the thumbs up.

So what type of skill set does Floyd offer? Floyd stands at a burly 6’3” 220 and has the speed and high-pointing abilities to be a downfield threat. While Chris Hogan has been the Patriots primary deep threat and rookie Malcolm Mitchell has been very good at being a reliable target outside the numbers, Floyd has more skill than those two when his head is screwed on straight. Given that Hogan and Mitchell have been very successful in this offense, there is no reason to pull those two to give Floyd snaps unless he earns them. The Patriots face Brandon Marshall next week, a receiver with similar abilities to Floyd, so it also has practice implications. If the Patriots win next week, it will be curious to see if Floyd gets practice player of the week.

For the Patriots, this is a medium-risk, high-reward type move. The medium risk is the $1.2M in sunk costs for keeping Floyd on the roster for three weeks. The high reward could come from if Floyd impresses in practice and re-signs for 2017, where he can really rebuild his image. Floyd has the talent to be a true #1 receiver, although the production hasn’t matched the talent yet. The Patriots will have their top 3 WRs from 2016 (Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell) returning for 2017 and need depth at the position.