Over at SBNation.com, Jeanna Thomas looked at the quarterbacks that are entering the 2017 season with the best receiving corps of their careers. Giants QB Eli Manning makes the list thanks to the addition of Brandon Marshall, while Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston and Titans QB Marcus Mariota are mentioned due to their respective teams signing DeSean Jackson and Eric Decker.
New England Patriots QB Tom Brady makes the list and that’s where I want to start this debate.
“I hesitated to include the Patriots simply because I don’t think this is the best receiving corps Tom Brady has had to work with in his career,” Thomas writes. “Randy Moss and Wes Welker combined for 2,668 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2007, and 23 of those touchdowns were from Moss. That’s almost unfathomable. But Brady hasn’t had this kind of depth to work with in the past.
“Rob Gronkowski, when healthy, is easily the best tight end in the league. Edelman was the team’s top receiver last year with 1,106 yards and three touchdowns. Hogan had 680 yards and four scores, and Gronk, even though he missed much of the season due to injury, put up 540 yards and three touchdowns.
“The addition of Cooks rounds out an already-solid group. Cooks scored eight touchdowns for the Saints last season and gives Brady a speedy target. He rounds out an absolute embarrassment of riches at receiver for the reigning Super Bowl champions.”
My simple question to you: Has Tom Brady had a better receiving corps in his career than what he has in 2017?
Now health plays a major factor- the quality of receiver this upcoming season would take a major hit if Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman are injured- but assuming the team is healthy, how does the 2017 receivers stack up against the other great Brady-led offenses?
The 2017 Patriots boast possibly the deepest wide receiver roster in Brady’s career with Julian Edelman, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan, Malcolm Mitchell, and Danny Amendola, while receiving backs James White and Dion Lewis are arguably Brady’s best, too. The tight end duo of Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen is probably the third-best duo of Brady’s career.
Here’s the competition (receivers listed gained 200+ receiving yards that season).
Receivers: WR Randy Moss, WR Wes Welker, WR Donte Stallworth, WR Jabar Gaffney, TE Ben Watson, RB Kevin Faulk
2007 Moss is simply the most dominant receiver of the Brady era with 1,493 receiving yards and 23 touchdowns. Welker joins Moss with 1,175 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns to create one of the top duos of the Brady era. Factor in Stallworth and Gaffney and this was a four-deep at wide receiver that could compete with the best.
The 2007 Patriots lost in the Super Bowl.
Receivers: WR Wes Welker, WR Deion Branch, WR Chad Ochocinco, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE Aaron Hernandez
The 2011 Patriots are the only Patriots squad to boast four different receivers with 600+ receiving yards. Welker and Gronkowski combined for 2,896 receiving yards (the most by a Patriots duo under Brady) and 26 touchdowns. Gronkowski and Hernandez were the most productive tight ends in NFL history and 2011 Gronkowski is probably the second-most dominant receiver of the Brady era.
The 2011 Patriots lost in the Super Bowl.
Receivers: WR Julian Edelman, WR Brandon LaFell, WR Danny Amendola, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE Tim Wright, RB Shane Vereen
The 2014 Patriots join the 2011 team as the only Brady-led offense with three 900+ yard receivers. When you factor in LaFell’s ability on the outside, Edelman’s ability in the slot, Gronkowski’s ability in-line, and Vereen’s ability out of the backfield, the 2014 Patriots might have had the most balanced passing attack of the Brady-era.
The 2014 Patriots won the Super Bowl.
Receivers: WR Julian Edelman, WR Chris Hogan, WR Malcolm Mitchell, WR Danny Amendola, TE Martellus Bennett, TE Rob Gronkowski, RB James White
The 2016 Patriots are the only Brady-led team with five receivers with 500+ yards as multiple players were capable of carrying the entire offense. While short-lived, the Gronkowski-Bennett duo was the first- and only- to rival the Gronkowski-Hernandez duo.
The 2016 Patriots won the Super Bowl.
So with these other offenses in mind, how would you compare the 2017 Patriots receiving corps?
Which Patriots team had the most talented receiving corps of the Tom Brady era?
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