After the NFL’s legal tampering period started yesterday, the New England Patriots were reportedly in on one of the top wide receivers available: Adam Humphries, who was among the league’s most productive wide receivers with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers over the last four years. However, New England was unable to secure his services as Humphries ultimately signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Tennessee Titans.
Since then, New England has been quiet. While the team did put an original-round tender sheet on suspended restricted free agent Josh Gordon, it has not yet made any headlines when it comes to adding to its rather shallow wide receiver group — one that currently consists of soon-to-be 33-year-old Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman, career special teamer Matthew Slater, and 2018 sixth-round draft pick Braxton Berrios.
The wide receiver market continued to shrink, meanwhile, with the following players all finding new homes:
Danny Amendola: 1-year, $4.5 million deal with the Detroit Lions
Jamison Crowder: 3-year, $28 million deal with the New York Jets
Devin Funchess: 1-year, $13 million deal with the Indianapolis Colts
John Brown: 3-year, $27 million deal with the Buffalo Bills
Cole Beasley: 4-year, $29 million deal with the Buffalo Bills
Amendola and Beasley, like Humphries, would certainly have been intriguing additions to New England’s offense, but the club never decided to not pursue them for one reason or the other. But while this leaves the Patriots with limited options at the receiver position, there are still some talented players out there — from ex-first rounder Kevin White to veterans Golden Tate and Randall Cobb.
Of course, the club could also go a different route and bring back its own group of free agent receivers: Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson. In Dorsett’s case, according to the Boston Herald’s Kevin Duffy, the Patriots and the player’s camp have kept an open dialogue and are still working on a potential reunion. Hogan and Patterson, in the meantime, could possibly also be retained on cost-efficient deals.
With that in mind, it would be a surprise if the world champions started the 2019 season with the same personnel it had available for Super Bowl 53. For starters, Josh Gordon could return to the team at one point even though he is currently suspended indefinitely. Furthermore, New England could try to add more youth and talent via the players still available in free agency and also through the draft.
And of course, the aforementioned Braxton Berrios could also be given a chance to carve out a role as ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss pointed out earlier today:
Early Patriots winner in free agency: 2018 sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios (No. 210) of Miami. The slot WR spent his rookie season on IR, and with the veteran free-agent market for slots rising as Pats have stayed the course, Berrios could have a nice opportunity ahead of him.
The Patriots may not have jumped in on the early free agency action, but they still have options with 2019’s opening day sixth months away.