In each of their last two playoff losses, the Patriots have learned the hard way that without a healthy Rob Gronkowski, their receiving corps doesn’t have the size and strength to create matchup problems downfield.
Wes Welker does a fantastic job underneath and across the middle, but he presents a small target for Brady, and for all we know Welker may not be with the team in 2013.
Brandon Lloyd has nice hands but again can be overmatched by bigger, more physical defensive backs. Even Aaron Hernandez is more of a tight end in a wide receiver’s body, standing at 6’1”.
Ramses Barden would give Brady his biggest target aside from Gronkowski. Standing at 6’6”, the former third-round pick is definitely a work in progress, having caught just 29 passes and zero touchdowns in his career.
However, he has shown glimpses of what made him so attractive coming into the league, most notably a nine-catch, 138-yard performance versus the Panthers in Week 3.
For the most part, Barden spent his time in New York buried behind Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz and Super Bowl hero Mario Manningham on the depth chart.
Before that he sat behind Steve Smith. All of those players were very productive for New York, so I don’t necessarily take that as an indictment of Barden. It just seems he could benefit from a change of scenery.
Are you telling me that Brady wouldn’t love looking to the outside and seeing a 6’6” giant (no pun intended) dwarf whoever happens to be covering him, even in just a limited role of say 15-18 snaps a game?
Not to mention a receiver that big would open things up in the red zone, especially if Gronk develops a propensity for injuries.
Barden will likely command somewhere in the neighborhood of $1 million annually as a low-risk, high-reward signing. If I were the Patriots, I’d be knocking down his agent’s door to make sure he’s commanding it in New England.