Dontrelle Inman could be Chris Hogan-type signing for Patriots

Dontrelle Inman could be Chris Hogan-type signing for Patriots

The Patriots have brought aboard another big body at wide receiver. Dontrelle Inman, who spent last season with the Colts, was signed to a one-year deal on Friday.

The news was first reported by Ian Rapoport. I did some checking to make sure Ian wasn’t lying. He wasn’t.

What are the Patriots potentially getting in the 30-year-old? A 6-3, 205-pounder who was at his best for the Chargers in 2016 when he had 58 catches for 810 yards and four scores.

After getting boxed out on the Chargers depth chart in 2017 by Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin and rookie Mike Williams, Inman was traded to the receiver-needy Bears in October of that year. He languished with Mitch Trubisky as his quarterback during the tail end of Trubisky’s rookie year. He wound up with 25 catches in eight games for the Bears.

Inman spent 2018 in Indianapolis and was pretty productive on a per-game basis with 28 catches (on 39 targets) in nine games.

Inman isn’t blazing fast and he’s not exceptionally strong (he had 11 reps on the bench at his Pro Day when he came out of Virginia in 2010).

Back in 2017, this was the detailed scouting report an AFC West scout gave Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune when the Bears acquired him:

“Good size,” the scout said. “He was hurt in training camp so he didn’t do much at all this year. Solid. Reliable. Dependable. He’s realistically a fourth (wide receiver), a teams guy. But considering their depth, gosh he’s better than (Josh) Bellamy. He’s better than better Tre (McBride). Kendall Wright is obviously more talented but it’s a trade that works for both ends in an ideal world. His reps were declining even more with Mike Williams coming back in the mix now. Travis Benjamin making some plays.

“He’s not going to wow you. In an ideal world, like I said, he’s probably a fourth. In their situation, he’s going to climb up the chart. I like the (Tanner) Gentry kid. I think they need to keep that guy. Off the preseason tape, I thought there was some stuff to him. It takes time. They’ve got a young quarterback and they need to find a guy for him to develop a relationship with. We’ll see. They’re hurting so bad. I don’t know what the market looks like on teams’ practice squads right now. So the trade works for both.”

Inman also played in the CFL and won a Grey Cup with the Toronto Argonauts. So he’s well-traveled, well thought-of and versatile. Realistically, he could be a Chris Hogan-level player for the Patriots, which is to say useful at times but not jaw-dropping.

With the addition of N’Keal Harry during the draft and the release of Bruce Ellington earlier in the week, the Patriots receiver corps is Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Demaryius Thomas, Maurice Harris, Harry and Inman. Second-year player Braxton Berrios, rookies Jakobi Myers, Xavier Ubosi, Damoun Patterson and Ryan Davis round out the other hopefuls. Suspended wideout Josh Gordon may also be in the mix at some point but that figures to be a very involved process.

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Patriots have the NFL's toughest schedule next season

Patriots have the NFL's toughest schedule next season

With or without Tom Brady at quarterback, those traditional complaints about the Patriots having an easy schedule will likely die down a bit next season.

Yes, there's still the AFC East for the Pats to feast on, but based on their opponents' records in 2019, New England has the NFL's toughest schedule in 2020. 

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Patriots opponents had a .537 winning percentage in 2019. Dates and times will be released as usual in mid-April, but the opponents have been known for a while and they include the two Super Bowl teams (on the road vs. the champion Kansas City Chiefs and hosting the runner-up San Francisco 49ers) and five other games against team who made the playoffs (the Buffalo Bills home and away, at the Seattle Seahawks, at the Houston Texans and home vs. the Baltimore Ravens).

The Pats are matched up with the AFC West and NFC West for non-division opponents, which throws some coast-to-coast trips in the mix. It also puts New England's AFC East rivals right up there with the toughest schedules as well, with the Jets second, the Miami Dolphins third and the Bills the fifth-toughest. 

The team with the easiest schedule next season? It's the one that won the most regular-season games (14) last season and earned the AFC's No. 1 seed in the playoffs, the Ravens. Their opponents had a combined .437 winning percentage last season. 

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs' Instagram activity sparks Patriots trade speculation

Vikings WR Stefon Diggs' Instagram activity sparks Patriots trade speculation

One of the New England Patriots' primary focuses this offseason will be to add weapons to an offense that lacked its usual explosiveness in the 2019 season.

There are plenty of options on the free agent market that could help the Patriots in that regard, but they also could look to improve their roster via trade. In fact, one particular star wide receiver appears to be placing himself on the trade block.

On Tuesday, Minnesota Vikings star Stefon Diggs removed all Vikings-related content from his Instagram page. That means no Vikings photos or videos, and no mention of the organization in his "bio" section.

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Predictably, that sparked plenty of "Diggs-to-the-Pats" speculation on social media.

And there's much more where that came from.

Making a move to add a top-tier wideout like Diggs not only would give the Patriots' receiving corps a much-needed boost, it also could entice soon-to-be free agent Tom Brady to stay in New England. The 42-year-old quarterback is set to officially hit free agency on March 18.

As for Diggs, he has four years remaining on his contract and the Vikings' asking price would be reasonably high. The 26-year-old caught 63 passes for 1,130 yards and six touchdowns in 2019.

Is there a chance this is nothing and we're all reading way too much into social media? Of course. But it wouldn't be an NFL offseason if we didn't have this kind of drama to talk about.