It feels like we do this every year. “The New England Patriots need another wide receiver.”
OK, “need” is a little strong. So let’s try that again: It “wouldn’t hurt” if the Patriots acquired another wide receiver.
We’re just a little over a week away from the Week 1 kickoff, as the Pats host the Houston Texans at Gillette Stadium next Sunday at 1 p.m. The schedule, right out of the gate, is not easy.
After Houston, they’ll go to Jacksonville in Week 2, then to Detroit in Week 3, then back home in Week 4 to host the Miami Dolphins, which is never a layup as a divisional showdown.
The Patriots will also play against several Super Bowl contenders this season — Green Bay, Minnesota, and Pittsburgh — but let’s focus on the first four games for now, because that’s when the Patriots will be needing another wide receiver the most.
Sorry, I meant to say, that’s when it wouldn’t hurt them to have another wide receiver.
Julian Edelman will miss the first four weeks with a PED suspension. Brandin Cooks was traded to the Rams. Danny Amendola signed with the Dolphins. Malcolm Mitchell was released. And Eric Decker has retired.
The depth chart at wideout, to begin the season, includes Chris Hogan, Cordarrelle Patterson, and Phillip Dorsett. Rob Gronkowski is technically a tight end, but we all know he’ll be Tom Brady’s No. 1 target, so let’s acknowledge him as such. And you can’t forget about the Patriots’ running backs who will undoubtedly be used in the passing attack, in James White and Rex Burkhead.
Still, unless you are high on Patterson or Dorsett as receivers, there’s room for another playmaker on the outside.
Yes, I’ll say it. There’s room for Dez Bryant.
Bryant is a free agent. He turns 30 in November. Some call him a “troubled” wideout. Most of that “some” are in Dallas.
The Cowboys decided to part ways with Bryant this offseason, and leaks out of Arlington questioned his leadership and competitiveness, all while pointing out his drops as just one example of his “declining skills.”
But really, when you hear Bryant’s name, what do you think of? You think of a receiver who’s upset with his quarterback on the sideline. On TV, that’s a bad look. But a little context might help us understand it.
Is Bryant a bad leader? Or was he frustrated with a young offense that had a quarterback who wasn’t ready to take his team to the next level?
What comes first, the chicken or the egg? Is Bryant a selfishly loose cannon, or is Dak Prescott making infuriatingly bad mistakes?
Could it be possible that Bryant just wants to win?
On Monday night, Bryant tweeted, “I just have to take care of me first.” He also tweeted, “I will play ball this year just might be a lil bit later in the year. We will see.”
About 10 minutes later, he tweeted, “I can sign before this season start, if I don’t, I will make less money which more likely to happen. I want to be right. That’s my focus right now. Life is great over here.”
This came just days after a report said the Cleveland Browns offered Bryant a one-year deal worth less than $5 million. At this point, Bryant will probably have to accept a one-year deal at a discounted rate, in which he’d be gambling on himself. And no offense to the Browns, but if he’s going to play for less than $5 million, he might as well do it for a team like the Patriots.
Because maybe he just wants to win.
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