ESPN’s Mike Reiss has an interesting idea on how the New England Patriots will replace the loss of WR Julian Edelman and the release of EDGE Kony Ealy: go outside the organization.
Reiss acknowledges that both Austin Carr and Devin Lucien are “coming up most often in discussion” by Patriots fans, but notes that “both of those players are more likely to be practice-squad considerations.” If the team adds depth at wide receiver, “it is more likely to come from outside the organization.”
He goes on to note that rookie Harvey Langi and Adam Butler are his favorites to make the team as edge defenders behind Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise, but adds “I still think the Patriots add an edge player from outside the organization.”
So Reiss thinks that the Patriots could add both a wide receiver and a pass rusher from another organization after roster cut downs. Why not look at the Detroit Lions?
We spoke with PrideofDetroit.com’s Christopher Lemieux prior to the third week of the preseason and he actually listed pass rushers and wide receivers that could interest the Patriots.
At wide receiver, Jace Billingsley, T.J. Jones, or old friend Keshawn Martin could become available and they could add important depth to the roster. On the edge, Alex Barrett, Pat O’Connor, and Jeremiah Valoaga could all interest the Patriots as developmental options.
There will be plenty of players available in the next week or two as teams have to cut rosters down to 53 players by 4:00 PM eastern on September 2nd. Look for veterans that could step in and contribute, too.
Reiss also has details of LB David Harris’ contract playing time incentives.
“The two-year, $5 million deal signed by Patriots linebacker David Harris this offseason includes $750,000 in playing-time incentives,” Reiss writes. “He can earn $250,000 if he plays 60 percent of the defensive snaps, and an additional $500,000 if he plays 80 percent of the defensive snaps.”
Those incentives will be tough for Harris to reach. LB Dont’a Hightower (67.9%) was the only linebacker to exceed 60% of the snaps last season, and only LB Jamie Collins (70.1%) accomplished the feat in 2015. Both Collins (84.9%) and Hightower (76.6%) broke the barrier in 2014.
Injuries certainly play a major factor, but even a healthy Harris might come up short of that 60% marker, unless he becomes an every-down player. Right now, he could be behind Dont’a Hightower and Kyle Van Noy on the depth chart and only play on rushing downs.