It feels weird to know that we are just seven weeks away from the start of the NFL regular season. It feels even weirder that there are question marks surrounding the ever so consistent and dominant New England Patriots as the season approaches.
It seems that the Patriots are still in need of a Wide Receiver, especially with Julian Edelman being suspended for the first four games of the season. Even when Edelman is reinstated, it would be great to have another proven wideout other than Edelman or Chris Hogan. Here are some options that the Patriots can call upon to fill this void via free agency.
VICTOR CRUZ: There was a time when Victor Cruz was regarded as one of the most electric Wide Receivers in the NFL. Then he tore his Patellar Tendon on a fateful night in 2014. The fact that he hasn’t played meaningful NFL football in almost two calendar years could be both a negative and a positive in this situation. The Patriots would definitely be able to sign him for small money and there’s a high chance that he still has something to offer. On the flip side, what is that something? Is he the same Cruz that lit up defenders not far too long ago, probably not. He is still worth a shot though. At the very least the Patriots could invite him to training camp and see what he can still do.
JEREMY MACLIN: Jeremy Maclin could work possibly be a short term replacement for Edelman. He is a legitimate number one option at the Wide Receiver position. Maclin is one of the most talented options available and after failed stints in Kansas City and Baltimore he might come to New England for cheap money. The only problem is there won’t be a need for him once Edelman serves his suspension. If he’s willing to be a “rental” Wide Receiver than it’s worth a shot.
MICHAEL FLOYD: Unlike Maclin, Michael Floyd is an option that works both during and after Edelman’s suspension. Floyd played with Patriots in 2016, so he knows the system to an extent. It wouldn’t be too hard to plug him into the rotation and the Patriots already know what they’d be getting as a player. Floyd also knows that he would have to keep his off-the-field issues in check while in order to be a Patriot.
ERIC DECKER: Eric Decker would be less of a fill-in for Edelman and more of a replacement for Danny Amendola, who left the Patriots to sign with the Miami Dolphins this offseason. Decker would actually be an upgrade from Amendola in terms of size and productivity (at least during the regular season). He can easily give you 70-80 receptions in a season. Decker might even sign with the Patriots at a discounted rate for a shot at a Super Bowl Championship. Signing Decker would put them back in their rightful place as the best team in the NFL.
DEZ BRYANT: If Dez Bryant is willing to take relatively small money to play for the Patriots than signing him would be a no-brainer. The question is would he be willing to take small money? Bryant is still one of the best Wide Receivers in the NFL and would have a field day with Tom Brady throwing him the football. Winning seems to put Bryant’s attitude issues in check and that’s all the Patriots would do if they sign Bryant. Bryant would also be a great decoy for Rob Gronkowski, as Bryant is talented enough to be a great Wide Receiver but big enough to be a Tight End. Teams wouldn’t know which one to have their best Safety cover as either one would abuse any Cornerback or Linebacker that’s thrown at them. With Bryant we would most likely see a Patriots team as dominant if not more dominant as the 2007. Close your eyes and remember what Brady did with Moss and imagine what he would do with a bigger almost equally talented Wide Receiver in Bryant.