The New England Patriots ended the 2018 season in the best possible way, by defeating the Los Angeles Rams to win Super Bowl 53. In order to stay on top of the NFL mountain, though, the organization will have to quickly turn the page to get itself into a position to create the best possible team for the 2019 season. And a big part of building such a team is mastering the upcoming free agency.
If judged by the list of free agents to be, New England’s front office will be busy over the next few weeks before the new league year officially is kicked off on March 13. Also over the next few weeks, we will take a look at those free agents-to-be to find out who may or may not get re-signed by the Patriots; and who should be a part of the 2019 squad. Today, we’ll continue the series with wide receiver Phillip Dorsett.
#13 WR Phillip Dorsett
2019 opening day age: 26
2018 playing time: 19 games (16 regular season + 3 playoffs); 36.4% offensive snaps
2018 statistics: 37 catches, 360 receiving yards, 5 touchdowns
2018 cap number: $1.39 million
Following an unspectacular first season in New England, Phillip Dorsett found himself in a good position to take a step forward entering 2018 — especially after the club had parted ways with its two top wide receivers from a year ago, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola. However, the 26-year old had an up-and-down second campaign with the Patriots as he failed to earn consistent playing time within the offense.
One reason for that was, of course, the return of Julian Edelman combined with the acquisition of Josh Gordon. But even after the latter left the team in mid-December, Dorsett failed to establish himself as a reliable option at the wide receiver spot alongside Edelman and a similarly inconsistent Chris Hogan. And while his year-long numbers are not bad per se, they also don’t inspire plenty of confidence heading into free agency.
Why should he be re-signed? Despite his inconsistent role and playing time, Dorsett did find some success as a third wide receiver late in the year: he caught 10 passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns after Gordon’s departure. Furthermore, his familiarity in the offense and playing alongside quarterback Tom Brady could be valuable to a club that has three wide receivers about to hit the open market next month. Bringing an experienced option like the 26-year old back into the fold might therefore be worth the investment — if the price is right.
Why should he be let go? While he is a former first-round draft pick, Dorsett’s upside in the Patriots’ offense appears to be limited to a rotational role as a fifth receiving option: even when the aforementioned Hogan failed to provide a reliable target at the number two wideout spot, Dorsett was unable to take advantage. On top of that, he does not bring any special teams value to the table after playing a grand total of zero kicking game snaps in two years in New England.
Projection: At least one club — be it the Detroit Lions, Carolina Panthers, or Washington Redskins — will see Dorsett’s first-round status and feel comfortable in its ability to turn his career around and find a consistent role for him. That team is not projected to be the Patriots, though, and the wideout will leave Foxboro to sign a deal elsewhere, averaging around $1.5 to $2.5 million annually