Patriots' best and worst free agent wide receiver signings since 2001
Looking back at the Patriots' best and worst free agent wide receiver signings
As free agency looms, and the Patriots' need for wide receivers is high, we look back at some of the Patriots' best (and worst) free agent wide receiver signings since 2001.
Best: David Patten
David Patten was there for the start of the dynasty, signing as a free agent in 2001 and proceeding to set career highs with 51 receptions, 749 yards and four touchdowns (all second-most on the team) in his first season, before eclipsing all of those marks in 2002. Among his highlights as a Patriot? A three-touchdown game against the Colts in 2001 (one run, one catch, one pass), catching a touchdown from Drew Bledsoe in the 2001 AFC Championship Game, and another touchdown catch from Tom Brady in Super Bowl XXXVI. Patten won three titles in his four seasons in New England.
Best, then Worst: Reche Caldwell
Reche Caldwell only spent one season in Foxboro, racking up 760 yards on 61 catches in the 2006 season. Unfortunately for Caldwell, he may best be remembered around New England for two costly drops in the 2006 AFC Championship Game against the Colts, drops which proved costly in the Patriots' 38-34 loss.
Best (Hair): Tiquan Underwood
Tiquan Underwood's Patriots career is notable for two things: his high top fade, styled after Kid from Kid 'n Play, and for being the victim of Bill Belichick's arguably most ruthless personnel move, when he was cut on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI. His stats weren't notable at all: three catches for 30 yards in six games. Now he's back in the AFC East, serving on Brian Flores' coaching staff in Miami.
Best: Jabar Gaffney
Jabar Gaffney was never the top option during his stint in Foxboro, but he was a serviceable wideout for the Patriots. Though he only racked up 11 catches for 142 yards in the entire 2006 season, he followed that up with back-to-back 100-yard playoff performances. He finished his Pats career with 85 catches and eight touchdowns in three seasons.
Best: Donte Stallworth
Signed in 2007, Stallworth only lasted one season with the Patriots, racking up 46 catches for 697 yards and three touchdowns while serving as the team's No. 3 wideout behind Randy Moss and Wes Welker. Released after the season, Stallworth returned in 2012 and played in one game, catching a 63-yard touchdown pass, before being placed on injured reserve.
Worst: Reggie Wayne
Reggie Wayne's credentials are impeccable: He's a six-time Pro Bowler, a Super Bowl champion, and he remains in the top 10 on the NFL's all-time receptions and receiving yards list. But that was all with the Colts.
The 36-year-old arrived in Foxboro in late August 2015, hoping for a fresh start with a new team. He lasted less than two weeks before requesting his release after complaining that the Patriots program was "too tough."
Worst: Eric Decker
From 2012-2015, Eric Decker was one of the most productive wide receivers in the NFL, with three seasons of 80+ catches, 10+ TD receptions and over 1,000 receiving yards. But his production had fallen off by the summer of 2018, when the Patriots inked him to a one-year contract.
He lasted less than four weeks in New England, catching two passes for 12 yards in preseason action, before announcing his retirement.
Best: Danny Amendola
Talk about a receiver who perfectly fit the Patriots mold. Amendola was a clutch performer on the biggest postseason stages, and he was one of Tom Brady's most trusted weapons on third down. Amendola never finished with more than four touchdown catches in any one of his five seasons in New England, but he had six touchdowns in 13 playoff games, and he was an absolute beast in the 2017 postseason, finishing with 348 receiving yards in three games.
Best: Chris Hogan
Three seasons in New England, three Super Bowl appearances for Chris Hogan. Not bad for the former Bill (and collegiate lacrosse player... if you haven't heard). Hogan's 17.9 yards per catch average led the NFL in the 2016 season, but after playing out his three-year, $12 million contract, Hogan once again finds himself on the free-agent market.
Worst: Torry Holt
Another WR from the Reggie Wayne school of "It Was Worth a Shot," Holt signed with the Patriots in 2010 after seven Pro Bowl seasons and eight straight 1,100-yard campaigns with "The Greatest Show on Turf." The Holt experiment in New England didn't last long, however. A knee injury in mid-August signaled the end of his playing career.
Best: Brandon LaFell
Brandon LaFell was a key contributor for the Patriots during their Super Bowl season of 2014, setting career highs with 74 catches for 953 yards and seven touchdowns. He also added two more scores in the postseason, including the game-winning catch in New England's comeback win over Baltimore in the Divisional Round. But LaFell couldn't duplicate that success in 2015. Plagued by drops and a foot injury, he was gone a season later.
Worst: Everybody Else
As for the other free agent wide receivers that have come through Foxboro since 2001, some had limited success (Brandon Lloyd), some couldn't duplicate the production from earlier in their careers (Austin Collie, Tim Dwight, Donald Hayes), and some were barely blips (Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews). Either way, they didn't make enough of a mark to earn their own entry on our list.