Friday, September 13, 2013
Possible '14 FA WR, TE targets for Pats
By Tom Carpenter
As the replacement for Wes Welker's replacement (Danny Amendola), Julian Edelman is sort of like Jon Favreau's character Mike in "Swingers". You know, "The guy behind the guy ... behind the guy."
He kind of performed like that in Thursday evening's win over the New York Jets, becoming just the 112th player in the Super Bowl era to catch 13 passes in a game but posting the lowest receiving-yards total (78) by a wide receiver among those with 13 receptions. Replacing a great player like Welker with a good player like Amendola, then turning to a decent player like Edelman is emblematic of the declining impact of the Pats' pass-catching corps.
Time will tell when we might see Amondola back, though it sounds like he's iffy for Week 3. The same goes for tight end Rob Gronkowski, who appears more likely to be in the mix in Week 4 than Week 3. That's the short term situation, but there are myriad concerns about the Pats receiving crew that will linger into next season, unless the likes of Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Zach Sudfeld improve dramatically during the season. The Pats prefer to build from within, so surely they hope their rookies can grow by leaps and bounds as 2013 rolls along, but what if they don't? The clock is ticking on Tom Brady (37 next season), so perhaps they would break habit and pay up for the right player(s) via free agency in 2014.
Among the top wide receivers who will be available as free agents next offseason is Anquan Boldin. He might be the ideal fit for the Pats, as a versatile pass-catcher who always shows up and rarely makes mistakes, but after his debut with the San Francisco 49ers in Week 1, it may take a crowbar and a giant contract to pry him out of their hands. Eric Decker also would make for a nice fit with the Pats -- and an ironic one, if he leaves the Denver Broncos due to a reduced workload after Welker joined them. The Pats already made their feelings known about Emmanuel Sanders this past offseason with a restricted-free-agent offer that ultimately was matched by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Other unrestricted free agents include the likes of Hakeem Nicks, Golden Tate and Kenny Britt. There are also currently injured guys like Jeremy Maclin and Danario Alexander. We should also note that Edelman, too, will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
If Gronk proves capable of getting through the rest of the season healthy, or if Sudfeld eventually steps up, the Pats may not feel the need to pay up for a free-agent tight end, but there will be a number of good ones available. Don't expect them to pony up for Jimmy Graham, and the flighty Jermichael Finley would seem an odd fit, but the likes of Dennis Pitta, Brandon Myers, Dustin Keller, Ed Dickson and Scott Chandler could be intriguing at the right price.