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 Chris Hogan.
#15 Chris Hogan
2019 opening day age: 30
2018 playing time: 19 games (16 regular season + 3 postseason); 73.4% offensive snaps, 29.9% special teams snaps
2018 regular season statistics: 35 catches, 532 receiving yards, 3 touchdowns
2018 postseason statistics: 8 catches, 58 receiving yards
2018 cap number: $3.28 million
In terms of playing time, Chris Hogan was the Patriots’ number one wide receiver in 2018. However, his production did not quite correspond with his time on the field as both Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon saw more action than Hogan. One reason for that was his role: while he opened the year as the number one wideout, he was pushed down the depth chart to number three upon the arrival of Edelman and Gordon.
Once the latter left the Patriots again in mid-December, Hogan returned to the number two role that he held on to through the rest of the season. But while he was given regular snaps no matter his position on the depth chart, the veteran did not always produce at a desired level: five times he was held without a catch, including Super Bowl 53 when he was targeted six times but failed to come away with a reception.
Why should he be re-signed? Despite the inconsistent nature of his 2018 campaign, the Patriots could opt to re-sign Hogan for multiple reasons: not only does he bring plenty of experience and usually solid chemistry with Tom Brady to the table — especially considering the turnover New England might face at the wide receiver position — he also is a core contributor on special teams. Even though the 30-year old will never turn into a big play X-receiver like Josh Gordon, he likely still has value as a number three wideout.
Why should he be let go? That all being said, his ceiling as a number three option in combination with a price tag that could again hit around $3 million annually might prompt the team to look elsewhere for improved wide receiver play — especially considering how inconsistent of a target Hogan was in 2018. Experience and chemistry with the quarterback can only get you so far, and a rookie or outside acquisition could do the trick as well.
Projection: After winning two Super Bowls in three seasons with the Patriots, it would not be a surprise if the club decided to move in a different direction this offseason. After all, Hogan’s offensive production and special teams role will not be all that hard to replace — all while getting younger and less cost-intensive at his position. Don’t be therefore surprised if he signs a two to three-year contract worth around $3 to $4 million per season with a wide receiver-needy team like the Detroit Lions (who are coached by former Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia).