BOCA RATON – After Bills GM Doug Whaley spent about a minute extolling the skills of departed wide receiver Chris Hogan, the obvious question became, “Why didn’t the Bills match the Patriots offer to the restricted free agent?”
“Strictly finances,” Whaley admitted. “For what we dedicated last year to offense and what we needed to do defensively, you can’t pay everybody.”
And the Bills’ loss, said Whaley, is very much the Patriots gain.
“It was (difficult to let him go),” said Whaley. “He’s done a great job, not only on the field as a third and fourth wide receiver (and) special teams, (but also) what he’s brought to the community. He’s a great asset to the Patriots. We’re sorry we’re gonna lose him. And add the fact that we’re gonna have to deal with him with the other end of that being [Tom] Brady, it’s a tough matchup because he’s a talented person.”
Hogan had 77 catches on 120 targets in the past two seasons at Buffalo. Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods and Charles Clay were the three players who saw more passing targets than Hogan in 2015. In 2014, it was Watkins, Woods, Fred Jackson and Scott Chandler.
Even with a three-year, $12 million deal from the Patriots, Hogan may not necessarily become a more featured player with the Patriots. Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski and Dion Lewis figure to get more looks. Martellus Bennett could, as well. Until there’s clarity on whether or not the team will keep Danny Amendola around at his current salary, it’s hard to handicap exactly what Hogan’s role will be.
But Whaley sees Hogan bringing something different to the Patriots offense.
“He fits the mold of their third wide receiver, that slot guy, but he brings the added dimension of size which they haven’t had for a while,” said Whaley. "Couple that with the ability to play four downs on special teams he’s a very good get.”