Patriots

Patriots

The Patriots' depth chart at receiver for 2019 is one Super Bowl MVP away from potentially being confused for that of an AAF franchise.

Julian Edelman will be in the final year of his contract next season. Joining him, at the moment, are 2018 sixth-round pick Braxton Berrios, as well as Darren Andrews and Cody Hollister -- both of whom spent last season on the reserve/non-football injury list. Damoun Patterson, who spent much of last season on New England's practice squad, will also be back in 2019 on a future contract. 

That's it. 

And that's what makes Tuesday's news that the Texans are releasing Demaryius Thomas somewhat intriguing from a Patriots perspective. 

The former Broncos wideout was traded to Houston mid-season to give DeAndre Hopkins a legitimate running mate at the position, but Thomas tore his Achilles in Week 16. 

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Now that he'll be free to select his next club, should the Patriots try to lure him to Foxboro?

Given the need for bodies at that position, the quick answer should be something along the lines of, "Why not?" 

The Patriots cycled through buckets full of receivers old and young last spring and summer in the hopes of finding quality depth at that position. They eventually settled on trading for Josh Gordon, who was suspended late in the year, leaving the Patriots with only two receivers who would eventually record a catch in Super Bowl LIII: Edelman and Cordarrelle Patterson. 

Then when you consider Thomas was Josh McDaniels' first first-round pick as head coach of the Broncos in 2010, the match between Thomas and the Patriots becomes even more interesting. If healthy, he'd give New England an outside-the-numbers threat who posted five consecutive 1,000-yard seasons from 2012-16, at times playing with below-average quarterbacks.

 

Now to answer that question.

Why not . . . ?

First, there's the issue of the torn Achilles. Thomas has been here before. He suffered an Achilles tear in February of 2011 and returned to practice in September of that year. He said it was seven months before he felt 100 percent. It was 10 months before he broke 40 yards receiving in a regular-season game for the Broncos. 

That was eight years ago. 

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Even if Thomas' recovery travels along a similar trajectory, any team that signs him might have to wait until mid-season to get regular production. Maybe the Patriots would be willing to ink him to a deal and wait. Thomas is at a point in his career, especially as he rehabs, where he won't be receiving exorbitant contract offers as a free agent so any offer he sees anytime soon, one would think, would be incredibly reasonable.

Still, Bill Belichick and his front office didn't seem all that willing to make the plunge for Thomas last season when the cost of doing business was far from astronomical. They had Gordon at the time, but they understood they were thin at the receiver position, and Thomas ended up in Houston for the price of a fourth-round pick and an exchange of seventh-rounders. 

Now 31 years old, coming off of a torn Achilles, should the Patriots try to get Thomas in town? Even with the connection to McDaniels, even with the legitimate need to fill out the receiving corps, there's no pressing need to pounce. It appears as though the Patriots will have six picks in the top 101, including compensatory selections, and this year's draft looks loaded with receiver help. Investing there makes more sense. 

Of course if Thomas remains available deeper into his rehabilitation, if he can be had relatively cheaply, and if the Patriots have space on their roster, they've shown they're willing to give just about anyone a shot. 

From their perspective, if that's the scenario, why not?

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