Yesterday, one of the New England Patriots' AFC East rivals suffered a devastating loss: The New York Jets were forced to place wide receiver Quincy Enunwa on injured reserve because of a neck injury; one, that is expected to keep the 25-year old sidelined for the entirety of the 2017 season.
Naturally, this move hurts a Jets team that already has issues on the offensive side of the ball. Enunwa was one of the few bright spots on a team lacking offensive talent and was projected to serve as the number one wide receiver for whoever will play quarterback for the team – either Josh McCown, Bryce Petty or Christian Hackenberg.
Placing Enunwa on injured reserve creates a void at the wide receiver position and leaves inexperienced players like Robby Anderson, Charone Peake and Lucky Whitehead as well as 2017 draft picks ArDarius Stewart and Chad Hansen atop the position depth chart. Not exactly a who's who of NFL pass catchers.
And this could be a problem for the Patriots.
No, New England's defense will likely not get torched by the Jets' wide receivers this upcoming season. In fact, the problem has nothing to do with the match-ups between the Patriots' secondary and the Jets' skill position players – or the defense at all. Instead, New York putting Enunwa on its injured reserve list might create a problem for New England's offense.
The Patriots currently have an embarrassment of riches at the wide receiver position. However, they do not appear to have enough spots to carry them all on their 53-man roster. This means that training camp standouts like Devin Lucien or Austin Carr are candidates to be released come cutdown day. Ideally, New England will look to sign both players to its practice squad.
After all, with Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola both on the wrong side of 30, the search for potential replacements – especially in Amendola's case – is near. Lucien and Carr, who have both performed well in New England's notoriously difficult defense during this year's camp practices, could be part of this process. Unless, of course, the Jets happen.
With New York in search of wide receiver depth and talent, the Patriots' talented duo could be on the team's radar as potential waiver wire pickups come September. Of course, a lot can happen until then, but New England has to be aware that a team like the Jets could have Lucien and Carr on its radar once the first releases start taking place.
However, keeping one or both of them is easier said than done. Do you leave a depth player elsewhere off? Do you elect to let one of Brady's favorite targets (Amendola) go? Or do you gamble and hope that the Jets do not put a waiver claim on either Lucien or Carr in case they will get released? In the upcoming weeks, New England will have to answer those questions.
Such is the life of an executive when having the deepest roster in the league: There is no certainty that you can keep every single piece of it.