The New England Patriots have joined the rest of the AFC East, and have signed a big name wide receiver. The team came to terms with 12-year veteran Torry Holt to a one year $1.7 million deal.
Big name pickup, but does the 33-year-old still have the big game that new AFC East wide receivers Brandon Marshall and Santonio Holmes have?
Once one of the members of the St. Louis Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf,” Holt’s numbers have declined dramatically. Last season with the Jacksonville Jaguars, Holt caught 51 passes for 722 yards, both career lows. It was also the first season he did not play all 16 games (he only missed one game—the final game of the season—so it isn’t that big of a red flag) as well as catching zero touchdowns.
However, those stats don’t tell the entire truth about how much gas is left in Holt’s tank.
The Jaguars are a run-heavy team. Holt’s 722 yards were second-highest on the team, behind Mike Sims-Walker’s 869. Sims-Walker was also the only player to catch more than two touchdowns (7).
On the other hand, the Patriots like to pass the ball a lot, and Tom Brady—a fan of veteran receivers—will look his way often. Unlike in Jacksonville, Holt will not be the number one option. He will be a complimentary player to Randy Moss, so he won’t be facing the opposing defense’s top corner, and the pressure will not be as high. He’ll provide even more depth when Wes Welker returns from injury.
He’s two years younger than the other free agent wide out the Patriots brought in this offseason—David Patten—and four years younger than Joey Galloway was last year when the Pats signed him.
Pats fans are going to be leery of any aging wide receiver thanks to their experience with Joey Galloway last season, but the Holt signing is different.
The season before joining the Patriots, Galloway played in only nine total games, caught an abysmal 13 passes for 138 yards, and zero touchdowns before being sidelined for the remainder of the season because of a foot injury—something that, combined with his age, seriously hampered a receiver whose main attribute was his speed.
Holt was still productive last season, he’s healthy, and he has good hands, something that won’t fade just because he’s older.
He’s also an extremely positive face in the locker room. He doesn’t get into trouble off the field, he is good with his teammates, he has a ton of experience he can share with the younger guys, and he also is a Super Bowl champion. He knows what it takes to be a winner in the NFL.
Holt comes at a relatively low cost, provides a good amount of intangibles, and, most importantly, can still produce on the field.
His game isn’t at the level it used to be, but Holt is a valuable signing for the Patriots, and could turn out to be one of the most underrated player acquisitions of the offseason.