Jordan Matthews

Patriots decide to part ways with WR Kenny Britt

Patriots decide to part ways with WR Kenny Britt

FOXBORO -- The Kenny Britt experiment is over. The Patriots announced on Wednesday night that they'd released the 6-foot-3, 228-pound veteran wideout. 

On the one hand, the move can't be considered a surprise. Britt himself acknowledged that he was behind his teammates thanks to all the reps he's missed this summer due to a hamstring injury. Britt was initially hurt during spring workouts -- after looking strong to that point in OTAs -- and by the time training camp practices were shut down to reporters last week, he still hadn't fully participated in an on-the-field workout. 

Britt was brought aboard in December and caught two passes in the regular season. The Patriots picked up his option for 2018, and it was reported that "big things" were expected of the Rutgers product and former first-round pick. Instead, his time in New England ended with a dud.

Can't make the club from the tub, as the saying goes. 

On the other hand, one thing Britt seemed to have going for him was that the rest of the Patriots receiving corps is in relatively dire straits. Or at least it looks that way. 

Julian Edelman will be suspended for the first month of the season. Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson look like locks for the Week 1 roster, but after that? Plenty of question marks. 

The player who may benefit the most from Britt's release is Eric Decker. Though Decker has had issues with drops since he arrived to the Patriots mid-camp, he's the most experienced receiver on the roster after the top-four (top-three not including Edelman), and his odds of making the roster may have just improved. 

Decker, though, like anyone else, will at some point have to prove his value. The Patriots are deep at positions like corner and along the defensive line. Britt's release could simply make room for an additional player at one of those spots. Or it could go to a core special teamer. Or a young player with promise at a position other than receiver.

The other receivers on the Patriots roster include Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, Devin Lucien and Paul Turner. Matthew Slater could potentially give the Patriots a body at wideout, but he's primarily a special teamer. 

With a relative dearth of trustworthy wideouts available, the Patriots may be forced to rely more on their 12 and 21-personnel packages (with two tight ends and two backs, respectively) through September with Edelman out. 

The argument could've been made that despite Britt's lack of practice reps, it was worth holding onto him to give the receiver group some depth going into the regular season (if Britt was healthy). 

But he'd fallen behind, and in the Patriots offense, it can be difficult to make up ground once that happens. Clearly the Patriots felt as though the marriage had run its course.

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Patriots receiving corps thinner than ever after Matthews put on IR

Patriots receiving corps thinner than ever after Matthews put on IR

FOXBORO -- Jordan Matthews had an opportunity with the Patriots. He landed on a roster this offseason that lost Danny Amendola. It's a roster that will be without Julian Edelman for the first four weeks of the season because of a suspension. 

For a team that has a need for an inside receiver, Matthews, who has plenty of experience in the slot, seemed like a logical fit. 

But after injuring his hamstring over the weekend, the Patriots have decided to try to fill that need elsewhere. The Patriots have placed Matthews on injured reserve. The team acquired fullback Henry Poggi, an undrafted rookie out of Michigan, to fill Matthews' spot on the 90-man roster. Poggi participated in Wednesday's practice. 

With Matthews no longer in the mix, the Patriots are even thinner at receiver. Kenny Britt and Matthew Slater remain on the physically unable to perform list, and Malcolm Mitchell has yet to practice. Among the available receivers for Tom Brady and the rest of the Patriots offense are Edelman, Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, Riley McCarron, Braxton Berrios, Devin Lucien and Paul Turner. 

Knowing Edelman will be out in September makes the long-term picture at receiver more tenuous for the Patriots. Both Hogan and Dorsett have some positional versatility, as does Turner. McCarron and Berrios are more traditional slots, and with the injuries piling up recently, McCarron has received some first-team reps of late. 

The Patriots could sign a free-agent wideout like Eric Decker, who was brought in to work out on Tuesday, but they haven't made a move to bolster the receiver room just yet. Until they do, Bill Belichick and his staff may have to adjust their practice schedule to ensure that they aren't overworking the players available from a banged-up position group. 

"That’s always a part of training camp -- management," Belichick said Wednesday. "Some positions are deeper than others. That can fluctuate from day-to-day, week-to-week in camp. So, sometimes that barometer goes up and down -- not always predictable. So, yeah, it’s a part of training camp. 

"We consider that when we go through our practice schedule, what the workloads are, take a look at the drills we’re doing and how many guys we have to do them and so forth, particularly when the lines don’t match up. 

"If you have an imbalance of offensive linemen versus defensive linemen or receivers versus defensive backs or tight ends versus linebackers, however that goes, then that makes it a little bit more challenging because the guys that have the numbers need the work and players that are the position that doesn’t have the numbers -- you have a hard time giving enough work to the guys where there’s depth. So, yeah, that’s always a daily discussion in our practice schedule and planning and the player workloads that they have."

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Report: Patriots place Jordan Matthews on IR

Report: Patriots place Jordan Matthews on IR

The Patriots have released wide receiver Jordan Matthews, according to Field Yates of ESPN.

Matthews, 26, suffered a hamstring injury in practice on Sunday, which NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport described as ‘significant.’

A former second-round pick of the Eagles in 2014, Matthews was signed as a free agent in April after appearing in ten games for the Bills in 2017.

With Julian Edelman suspended for the first four games of the season, Kenny Britt and Malcolm Mitchell dealing with injuries, and now the release of Matthews, the Patriots appear thin at receiver, leading the team to look for reinforcements.