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Multiple wide receivers give Patriots options, leverage

Tom Brady, Deion Branch AP

It may be a friendly competition, but it’s still a competition for a precious roster spot.

At a time when receiver-thin teams are dealing with disgruntled stars, the Patriots  have the luxury of too many weapons at the position.

As MDS mentioned in the one-liners, the depth could make things difficult for Donte Stallworth to make the team. But it may also serve as a negotiating tool for the Patriots.

In addition to the franchised-tagged Wes Welker, the Patriots will have complicated decisions to make considering they brought Brandon Lloyd in along with Deion Branch, Jabar Gaffney and Stallworth.

They’ve already rid themselves of Chad Ochocinco, and have to figure out how to manage the roster to accommodate special teams captain Matthew Slater and punt returner Julian Edelman.

“I can’t say who will be here,” Branch told Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald. “As far as the competition, that’s the fun part. We’ve all been playing this game a long time. You have to love coming out, running around, making plays for your team, and I think that’s what everybody in the locker room is doing. We enjoy it.

“I promise you the guys who don’t make it, they’ll be somewhere. They’ll be somewhere.”

The depth gives the team options, but it also serves as a not-subtle reminder to Welker as he looks for a long-term deal. He’s making no noise about working under the one-year, $9.5 million deal, and recent reports said there was “no meaningful progress” on a new one. With so many options, paying a 31-year-old doesn’t seem like a priority, and they probably don’t mind him knowing that.

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24 Responses to “Multiple wide receivers give Patriots options, leverage”
  1. rc33 says: Jun 20, 2012 10:39 AM

    With those TE’s, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Gaffney, Branch, etc…their passing game is gonna be sick.

  2. lightofkolob says: Jun 20, 2012 10:45 AM

    Branch is going to and deserves to be cut.

  3. captfoxboro says: Jun 20, 2012 10:46 AM

    Wonder if Pats might be able to swing a deal with the Vikes for Percy Harvin .

  4. CKL says: Jun 20, 2012 10:46 AM

    Mere words cannot describe how happy I was they brought Jabs back. That was one of their biggest mess ups ever, not offering him a longer contract before 08. I screamed about it even then. He’s a lock. If any of the second go round guys is on the bubble, it’s probably Stallworth.

  5. dalucks says: Jun 20, 2012 10:54 AM

    It only makes since for the Patriots to trade Wes Welker sometime during the season. They have already replaced his production spread over three wide receivers along with Aaron Hernandez. Plus, the Patriots are not giving Wes a long term contract so they should trade him for a draft pick or two instead of letting him walk in free agency for nothing.
    Salute to Wes, he was a good little foot soldier during his time in New England.

  6. truthhurtstoo says: Jun 20, 2012 11:03 AM

    too bad that only a few of them are any good… I also see that Ms. Bunchen has a new hairdo.

  7. nflofficeadmin says: Jun 20, 2012 11:12 AM

    They won’t be able to afford Hernandez when he comes due for a new contract, so it’s good that they are loading up the WR now and have the Ballard signing to replace Hernandez when he eventually leaves via free agency.

  8. mornelithe says: Jun 20, 2012 11:21 AM

    @nflofficeadmin: Unlikely scenario, Hernandez won’t fetch as much as Gronkowski, and Gronkowski’s extension is actually back loaded, so that in 2012-2013 his salary is quite manageable. Likely to make room for the inevitable Hernandez extension.

    Given all the TE’s the Pats have tried out so far this offseason, it’s clear they’re looking for more than just a replacement for Hernandez. They want a true 3rd TE. And the size of the TE’s they’ve worked out suggests they want someone who can block, as well.

  9. voxnovo says: Jun 20, 2012 11:35 AM

    The Patriots may have a lot of bodies at WR, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a lot of QUALITY bodies.

    Mr. Gantt needs to be careful not to confuse one with the other.

    Welker and Lloyd may both command respect. Not so sure about any of the others.

    And even Welker now has an obvious history of not getting it done when it counted the most. Just ask Giselle!

  10. Ghost Rat says: Jun 20, 2012 11:39 AM

    dalucks says:
    Jun 20, 2012 10:54 AM
    It only makes since for the Patriots to trade Wes Welker sometime during the season. They have already replaced his production spread over three wide receivers along with Aaron Hernandez. Plus, the Patriots are not giving Wes a long term contract so they should trade him for a draft pick or two instead of letting him walk in free agency for nothing.
    Salute to Wes, he was a good little foot soldier during his time in New England.
    ————————————————

    Enjoyed the pun. The truth is that a trade of Welker is entirely possible. While he is one of the most productive players in the league, the Patriots’ history shows they would rather get rid of a guy a year too early than a year too late. Add to that Welker’s public airing of his contract issues, and I am not certain that he isn’t sitting in Belichick’s dog house right now.

    While I doubt that you would see a trade for someone like Percy Harvin, a trade to increase next year’s draft pool is not out of the question.

    Welker is a great player and has been one of my favorite Patriots’ players, but it would simply not stun me to see him traded, and to see Edelman or another player get assigned to the slot position. Health permitting, you might even see Hernandez or even Gronk spending far more time in the slot.

    I genuinely hope that Welker can work out a deal, but as this becomes more unlikely, it is increasingly likely that he will be traded.

  11. xsherr says: Jun 20, 2012 11:40 AM

    That’d be sick if they pulled a trade for Percy.

  12. mornelithe says: Jun 20, 2012 12:12 PM

    @Voxnov: Stallworth and Gaffney don’t qualify as ‘quality’ receivers? Are you sure you’re not underrating them just a tad? Are they superstar receivers? No. But, they’re far better than last years group of receivers that the Pats carried.

    Plus, they’re actually familiar with McDaniel’s offense, which is very important, given how some players aren’t able to adapt to the Pats offense as well as others.

    And let’s be honest here, with Welker, Lloyd, Gronkowski, and Hernandez, Gaffney and Stallworth will likely see the least amount of action out of the entire receiver/TE corps. But, they WILL be there to keep defenses honest.

  13. patsfiend says: Jun 20, 2012 12:16 PM

    The jury is still out on whether this group of WR’s is going to be any good. They are on the older side, and not that fast. But then again, Pats always seem to value smarts over athleticism.

    Looking forward to seeing how this develops, and glad that Chad is no longer part of the equation.

  14. jnbnet says: Jun 20, 2012 12:18 PM

    The one constant you find with the Patriots is that you never know what is going to happen. Wellker could indeed be traded while he still has trade value. It would be easier for a team to deal with Welker before he signs a new contract. Bill Belichick is willing to make the hard choices…keeping an eye towards the future. That is one reason the Patritos are always in the mix.

  15. 1historian says: Jun 20, 2012 1:17 PM

    Somehow or other it seems that when receivers come to New England and they see #12 throwing passes their way they suddenly get real good.

    Wes is NOT going to get a long term contract, so he is smart to let them franchise him and keep his mouth shut – $9.5 mil per annum for catching passes from Tom Brady is not a bad gig when you think about it.

    There is of course the ever present fact that Pro sports is a business, the players are equipment, and when equipment is used up you get rid of it.

  16. jessethegreat says: Jun 20, 2012 2:16 PM

    The Pats have a lot of “known” receivers, but sadly, none of them have the skill-set as Welker.

    Tom will NOT be happy if they get rid of his most consistent and longest tenured receiver…. but in typical Brady fashion, he will keep his mouth shut and continue to throw touchdowns.

  17. saucegarbonzo says: Jun 20, 2012 3:25 PM

    Hmmmm… Percy the patriot

  18. saucegarbonzo says: Jun 20, 2012 3:26 PM

    Hmmmm… Percy the patriot, it’s got a nice ring to it.

  19. nflofficeadmin says: Jun 20, 2012 3:33 PM

    @mornelithe only time will tell. But how to do explain the Ballard signing then? Everything you said flies in the other direction of the Pats signing the Giants former No.1 TE. How do you explain it..

  20. newyorkfootballjets says: Jun 20, 2012 5:13 PM

    Bye bye Branch time to retire

  21. ghengy says: Jun 20, 2012 6:09 PM

    The Patriots prefer smarts and football speed to pure straight line speed.

    Interesting stat, Randy Moss highest YPC was 15.2, and he did it twice. Donte Stallworth in his one season with the Pats, 46 catches and a 15.2 YPC. Both these guys can still run in the 4.3′s.

    Brand0n Lloyd is a 4.6 guy that averaged 18.8YPC in McDaniels offense. Hmmn, how is that possible?

    Bottom line, the Pats have a possession offense and truth be known, Brady has lost some steam off his fastball and wont be throwing the ball deep, everybody knows that. So what good is a deep threat when your QB cant throw the ball over the safety.

    BTW, Stallworth ran a 4.35 at Tennessee’s Pro Day last year just horsing around, thats where I got that number.

  22. mornelithe says: Jun 21, 2012 12:33 AM

    @nflofficeadmin: Oh that’s really really easy…think about it. Thus far of the 3rd TE group the Patriots have tested, none have been able to pass muster. Fells is injured and not young. Scaife was ridiculously out of shape.

    Ballard has the height, length, catching and blocking ability the Pats desire out of a 3rd TE, and a hideously cheap contract to boot. He’s not a rookie, and has proven himself in the ‘show’. But, not so much that he’d warrant a contract the size of Gronk, or Hernandez.

    The issue there was the Giants took more of a gamble than the Pats. That’s all. And the Pats are willing to hold him on their 90-man roster, until such a time where they can put him on PUP, when it’s safe. Giants front office made a mistake there, nothing more, nothing less.

  23. rushmatic says: Jun 23, 2012 11:56 PM

    captfoxboro says: Jun 20, 2012 10:46 AM

    Wonder if Pats might be able to swing a deal with the Vikes for Percy Harvin .

    ________________

    I’m all for playmakers to join the call, but how many slot receivers do we need? They didn’t even list Ebert in the article.

  24. rushmatic says: Jun 24, 2012 12:00 AM

    oxnovo says: Jun 20, 2012 11:35 AM

    The Patriots may have a lot of bodies at WR, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they have a lot of QUALITY bodies.

    Mr. Gantt needs to be careful not to confuse one with the other.

    Welker and Lloyd may both command respect. Not so sure about any of the others.

    And even Welker now has an obvious history of not getting it done when it counted the most. Just ask Giselle!

    ________________________

    I suppose that’s true if you base your knowledge from the media tells you. The Patriots favor intelligence, character and good decision-making over elite athleticism. And you’re failing to acknowledge Gronkowski and Hernandez.

    Try blocking all 4 of them — only to realize Stallworth, Gaffney and/or Edelman are breaking open.

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