The New England Patriots claimed former Arizona Cardinals WR Michael Floyd on December 15th with three games left in the regular season. The Patriots adopted the astonishing $1.29 million left on Floyd’s contract for the remainder of the season. Despite an extra three games in the playoffs, Floyd was only active for three games in a Patriots uniform.
According to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, there’s a big chance that Floyd won’t return to the Patriots in 2017.
“Receiver Michael Floyd has stated his hope to return to the Patriots in 2017,” Reiss writes, “and while that could still happen, it isn't the slam dunk that I previously envisioned. I now don't see the Patriots extending too far financially to retain Floyd, who at 6-foot-2 and 220 pounds brought a different type of physical presence to the receiving corps after being claimed in mid-December but also wasn't always on the same page as quarterback Tom Brady as he learned the team's system on the fly. If another team ups the ante with Floyd in free agency, I'd be surprised if the Patriots get into a competitive situation to retain him.”
The assumption in December was that the Patriots were okay claiming Floyd off waivers because it would give the team an early head start to reach an extension with Floyd and to retain the former first round pick.
Of course Floyd doesn’t really have a fit in New England. Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan are the top two receivers that play inside and outside, while Malcolm Mitchell and the likely-restructured Danny Amendola are the top back-ups on the sideline and in the slot, respectively.
Mitchell put together an incredible Super Bowl and emerged as a favorite of QB Tom Brady down the backstretch of the 2016 regular season, which means that Floyd would start the season as the 3rd best option as an outside receiver on the roster, behind Hogan and Mitchell.
The best case for Floyd to return involves the Patriots failing to reach a restructure with Amendola. If Amendola doesn’t return, then the Patriots have the opportunity to give more slot snaps to Hogan, which opens an outside receiver spot for Floyd to capitalize upon.
As Reiss said, the Patriots could offer Floyd a team-friendly, multi-year contract to see if they can retain a young, former 1000+ yard receiver at bargain bin levels.