The New England Patriots have made a total of 28 transactions at the wide receiver position since the start of the 2018 league year, but none has been bigger – at least on paper – than the latest: the Patriots have acquired Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon for a conditional fifth-round draft pick earlier today. The move gives New England a hugely talented option and improves the team’s overall offensive depth.
That being said, let’s reset the team’s wide receiver group after the acquisition – and after the team also let go fellow ex-Brown Corey Coleman:
The Patriots’ top three wide receivers have been set since training camp, so it will be interesting to see how Gordon will fit in. He undoubtably has the skill set to serve as the number one option at the position but will need to get on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady on the fly. If he is up to the challenge, New England could just have acquired a game-changing player at a position that has been inconsistent through two games this year.
Before getting into any projections, however, let’s stick with what we know: the Patriots have Chris Hogan and Phillip Dorsett as their one-two punch at wide receiver at the moment, with Cordarrelle Patterson a third option so far primarily used in special packages to take advantage of his athleticism. Matthew Slater, meanwhile, continues to serve as a special teamer that has virtually no offensive impact.
While Riley McCarron started the regular season on the active roster, he was released after muffing a punt in the season opener against the Houston Texans. McCarron went unclaimed and was therefore able to join the Patriots’ practice squad. With Gordon now on board, the chances of the second-year man getting elevated once again appear to be closely tied to his ability and consistency in the return game.
New England’s number one wide receiver is still sidelined because of a four-game suspension. Once Julian Edelman returns, he will add another dimension to the Patriots’ aerial attack – a player that can get open quicker than anyone the team currently has under contract. As such, he is again projected to be a core member of the team’s offensive arsenal.
The Patriots’ offensive attack, of course, consists of more than just the wide receiver position. The team also has the best tight end in the NFL under contract – Rob Gronkowski – and a productive group of running backs led by the three-headed attack that is James White, Rex Burkhead, and first-round rookie Sony Michel. Even before acquiring Gordon, New England had some serious talent and upside available. Now, the group becomes even stronger – if Gordon can live up to the hype.