One of the New England Patriots’ biggest storylines of the offseason will be the developments at the team’s wide receiver position. While Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman will be back next year, the rest of the position depth chart could undergo a transformation process over the next few weeks with Josh Gordon still indefinitely suspended, and Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson all headed towards unrestricted free agency.
Theoretically, all four players could return to be a part of the Patriots’ 2019 roster. However, at least some level of turnover can be expected — and a recent report further adds to this belief. According to NESN’s Doug Kyed, New England might face some competition for Chris Hogan’s services, and that the veteran wide receiver will generate “a decent market” once he enters free agency alongside Dorsett and Patterson on March 13.
Hogan, of course, was a starting-level player for New England the last three seasons. That being said, after solid outings in both 2016 and to somewhat lesser degree 2017 — when he missed seven regular season games with a shoulder injury — last season was a down-year for the 30-year old: despite playing all 19 of the Patriots’ games and being on the field for 73.4% of the club’s offensive snaps and 29.9% on special teams, Hogan’s impact was limited.
In terms of playing time, of course, 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.
Despite his inconsistent numbers, however, it appears as if teams view Hogan as a free agency option worth exploring. How that impacts his chances of returning to New England — if the team wants him to, of course — remains to be seen, but it would not be surprising to see the Patriots go in a different direction if Hogan’s market indeed develops as early reports indicate it might.
[UPDATE] According to the Boston Globe’s Nora Princiotti, 25 teams have expressed interest in Hogan so far.
[UPDATE] According to Patriots Wire’s Henry McKenna, the Patriots and Hogan’s camp have been in talks about a potential new contract.