5 Free-Agent Wide Receivers the New England Patriots Should Call
It certainly has not helped that All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski and versatile running back Shane Vereen are missing due to injuries. However, the injury of wide receiver Danny Amendola is the most concerning of all.
With Amendola unable to play against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, the aerial attack of the Patriots struggled greatly. Rookie wide receivers Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins seemed lost at times and never fully jelled with their quarterback. It is also doubtful that New England will hang its hat on Julian Edelman going forward.
Even upon the return of these injured players, the Patriots will need some insurance. After all, Gronkowski and Amendola do not have favorable injury histories.
The team needs another veteran wide receiver's presence in the lineup. The easy fix would have been re-signing Lloyd, but it was revealed by Pro Football Talk that he does not have the desire to continue his career.
So, which veteran wide receivers should receive a call from the Patriots?
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Yes, Austin Collie does have an injury history of his own. However, he was out of football for most of the 2012 season due to concussion issues. He had a fine preseason with the San Francisco 49ers this year, and he proved once again to be very serviceable when healthy.
There is an advantage to signing a receiver like Collie who is productive yet may worry teams because of injuries. The advantage is a veteran minimum contract without any guaranteed money. Because the regular season has already begun, guaranteed money is not mandatory.
This signing would quickly become low-risk, high-reward. After all, his 173 career receptions would be second among the team's wide receivers after Amendola.
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It was not long ago that Laurent Robinson recorded 54 receptions for 858 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Dallas Cowboys. Robinson may not see that kind of production with the Patriots, but at just 28 years of age, he still has plenty of football left in him.
Robinson is a sure-handed receiver and is versatile enough to play the outside or the slot. His skill set would be a welcomed addition of Bill Belichick's roster as another way to create mismatches against opposing defenses.
Standing at 6'2" and running a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, Robinson could be an instant deep threat for Brady and allow other options to open up underneath. His addition would add another dimension to the Patriots' aerial attack.
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Devery Henderson is another option that would bring a solid amount of speed to the Patriots offense. He comes from a fantastic pedigree in New Orleans as one of Drew Brees' top targets in the Saints' wide receiver corps.
A speedy receiver, Henderson has averaged 17.9 yards per reception over his 10-year career. Henderson knows what a top-tier quarterback expects and is very familiar with a spread-style offense.
Bringing in Henderson would provide a veteran mentor for the younger receivers on the team as well as another viable option for Brady.
One more plus from Henderson is that he has never lost a fumble during his entire professional career. This is something that Belichick and Co. would hold in high regard.
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Mohamed Massaquoi is a 6'2" possession receiver who could jell immediately with Brady. This fifth-year receiver is not known for his speed but is very capable of using his large frame to shield defenders away from the football.
That fact of the matter is that he has never been paired with an elite quarterback. The NFL has not fully seen what Massaquoi is capable of to this point—pairing him with Brady could do wonders.
Despite the quarterback carousel while he was in Cleveland, Massaquoi still managed a respectable 14.8 yards per reception despite the lack of a competent quarterback. His career 1,745 receiving yards and seven touchdowns would be an immediate upgrade in New England.
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One of the more experienced free-agent wide receivers, Steve Breaston would bring plenty of veteran knowledge to the Patriots. Playing earlier in his career with Kurt Warner, Breaston put up some rather gaudy numbers.
In 2008—Breaston's second year in the league—he totaled 77 receptions for 1,006 yards and three touchdowns on his way to the Super Bowl with the Arizona Cardinals.
After Warner's retirement, Breaston's stock plummeted due to the lack of a viable quarterback both in Arizona and then again in Kansas City.
Breaston is still only 30 years old and is still capable of being a consistent target and a mentor for rookie wide receivers. As an added bonus, Breaston is a capable kick returner and can contribute on special teams.