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Why Roddy White Isn't the Cure for New England Patriots' WR Concerns

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 03:  Roddy White #84 of the Atlanta Falcons warms up prior to the game against the New Orleans Saints at the Georgia Dome on January 3, 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
Erik FrenzSenior Writer IDecember 18, 2016

A team like the New England Patriots might make the most sense for a receiver like Roddy White, but that doesn't mean that White makes the most sense for the Patriots.

It would be perfect for the former Atlanta Falcons receiver to come to a team with an elite quarterback. It would also make White's life easier if he was surrounded by a handful of other talented skill position players that can take some of the attention away from him.

Yes, White has had an illustrious career, setting team records in receptions, yards and touchdowns. Yes, he made many impressive catches in his time with the Falcons.

But if the Patriots are hoping that White can be the cure-all for their problems at wide receiver, they're sorely mistaken. 

With one free-agent signing, the Patriots changed the entire complexion of that group two years ago. In 2014, Brandon LaFell was everything the Patriots needed at wide receiver: he was sure-handed, durable, smart and effective after the catch.

Roddy White's past 3 seasons
Year201320142015
Tgt9412267
Rec638043
Catch%6765.664.2
Yards711921506
Y/Rec11.311.511.8
YAC118185117
YAC/Rec1.92.32.7
TD371
Drops8102
Source: Pro Football Focus

In 2015, some of those traits vanished: he dropped 10 out of 47 catchable passes thrown his way for a drop rate of 21 percent that was the highest in the league, according to Pro Football Focus; he also missed the first six games of the season with a foot injury. He demonstrated a solid understanding of the offense, though, and he was even more effective after the catch in 2015 (6.1 yards after catch per reception) than 2014 (4.6 YAC/reception).

Never mind the fact that White had the fewest receptions, yards and touchdowns he's posted in a season since 2006. And yes, he was sure-handed with just two drops in 2015 (although he's battled drops throughout his career, with 10 in 2014 and 17 in 2011). He's just not the kind of receiver the Patriots typically target. 

He's not particularly quick or effective with the ball in his hands after the catch; he averaged just 2.7 yards after catch per reception, which is actually his highest average since 2012. He's never been a particularly effective deep-ball receiver, having caught five out of 10 deep passes thrown his way in 2013, eight of 17 in 2014 and two of eight in 2015.

He's not the kind of receiver who dominates with his size, either, standing 6'0" and weighing 211 pounds. He's also not versatile enough to line up at multiple spots on the field, and he ran just 87 of his 587 routes from the slot in 2015. 

Basically, White is an older version of Brandon Lloyd. The Patriots signed Lloyd at around 30 years old, hoping that he could provide the outside presence their offense was missing. What they got was a receiver who dropped too many catchable balls (seven out of 74), wasn't effective anywhere but the boundary and hit the deck immediately after catching the ball (2.3 yards after catch per reception).

In that sense, the kind of production you could expect from White would be similar to what the Patriots got from Chad Ochocinco. The mercurial receiver was talented and productive in his day, but there wasn't much left by the time he got to the Patriots, and he simply wasn't a fit for their offense.

The Patriots shouldn't hold out for the perfect wide receiver, because they will be waiting forever. That being said, with a skill set that so clearly doesn't fit the Patriots offense, Roddy White would be a step in the wrong direction. 

 

Unless otherwise noted, all advanced statistics obtained via Pro Football Focus.

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