It was only a few days ago that Bill Belichick said part of the reason the team decided to put Josh Gordon on injured was reserve was because of a logjam at the receiver position.
"I mean, look, something's got to — I mean, we're not going to carry 10 receivers on the team," Belichick said on Friday. "So something's going to have to happen. I don't know what. I can't imagine we'd carry that many players in one position. So, I don't know.
"At some point, numbers have to become a factor when they get high. This is the National Football League, this isn't a college."
And yet, consider what Fox NFL reporter Jay Glazer said while answering a question from a recent mailbag. Asked whether or not the Bills would be chasing after a receiver before Tuesday's trade deadline, Glazer said yes.
But he didn't stop there.
"Bills actually are in the market for a receiver . . . When you had [Mohamed] Sanu and Emmanuel Sanders last week, with the Patriots and 49ers going in on them, I do know the Bills were kind of in the market there also," Glazer said.
"Believe it or not, the Patriots are still in the market for a receiver."
OK, so let's tally the number right now at the receiver position for the Patriots: Sanu, Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski were the five active receivers in Sunday's win over the Browns. N'Keal Harry is eligible to play in his first regular-season game in Week 9 against the Ravens. That gives the Patriots six potential wideouts next weekend.
Glazer is one of the most plugged-in NFL reporters in the country, so it's worth noting when he hears anything trade-deadline related. And there are a few reasons as to why this would make some sense for the Patriots.
They've become more of a spread-it-out offense this year than they were late last season en route to their sixth Lombardi Trophy. Their running game has been inefficient enough through eight games that it might make sense for them to pivot away from heavier personnel packages and go receiver-heavy more often.
They've used their 10-personnel package — four receivers, one back — relatively frequently this year, and they'd need significant depth at the wideout spot if they plan on making that a staple of their attack moving forward.
The Patriots parted ways with another wideout last week when they slapped the IR designation on Gordon, who is expected to be released off of IR in short order. But indications were that move was related to dependability concerns with that particular player. If they add another receiver before the deadline, then that would be a sign that the team simply did not want to continue the season with Gordon in the mix — even if parting ways with him left them wanting more receiver help.
Here are five wideouts the Patriots could try to pluck from their current teams if they're looking to add before the deadline. Any move they make would have to fit under their salary cap, which could be difficult. According to Miguel Benzan of the Boston Sports Journal, the Patriots have just under $3 million in cap space at the moment.
DANNY AMENDOLA, 33, DETROIT LIONS
The Patriots just went out and acquired Sanu to give them a slot receiver to pair with Julian Edelman for the first time since they had Amendola. But would Amendola make sense as slot depth? If anything were to happen to Sanu, he could slide right in and play a major role. Even if Sanu was healthy, Amendola understands the offense well enough to handle multiple receiver roles. He'd also be a punt-return option if the team ever decided it had to move on from Olszewski to open a roster spot. His cap hit would seemingly be able to fit, as it'd cost just over $2 million to bring him back. Amendola had a two-game stretch where he played just 40 snaps, but he's played 94 plays over the last two weeks so perhaps the Lions would be reluctant to part with him.
A.J. GREEN, 31, CINCINNATI BENGALS
This one would be fascinating. Unfortunately for those of us who find it fascinating, the Bengals have already said A.J. Green isn't available. But what if they had a change of heart? His cap hit would be about $6 million. In terms of the draft capital the Bengals would need in return, it should only be a third-rounder for any team taking him on as a rental. That's what Golden Tate went for at last year's deadline when he was 30 years old and coming off of a 1,000-yard season the year prior. Green has been injured and hasn't played a snap this season. The cap hit is an issue. It looks unlikely that the Patriots would be able to clear enough space for Green, but never say never when it comes to Belichick and cap gymnastics.
ALEX ERICKSON, 26, CINCINNATI BENGALS
Here's another Bengals option worth considering. Erickson is 6-feet, 195 pounds, and he's been the No. 4 receiver in an offense that's been without A.J. Green through the first half of the season. His cap hit would be easily absorbed (less than $1 million for the rest of this year), and he has one year remaining on his deal. He's a capable run-blocker and he was teammates with James White at Wisconsin. This obviously would not qualify as a splash signing, but if the Patriots are simply looking for a depth piece who'll fit under the cap and provide them another professional receiver to help them run more receiver-heavy sets, this could be the type of acquisition they'd be looking at.
KEENAN ALLEN, 27, L.A. CHARGERS
Like Green, Allen's cap hit is an issue. He'd be a nearly $5 million cap hit for the rest of the season. But perhaps extensions for players like Kyle Van Noy, Devin McCourty and/or Dont'a Hightower could help create the room necessary to swing a trade. The Chargers are 3-5 and could be sellers. Allen has voiced his displeasure with how things have gone in L.A. this season. If the Patriots could somehow pull this off, they'd have one of the best route-runners in the game with another year on his deal. Allen's skill set would work in the slot or outside, but he'd be more of a big-body (6-foot-2, 211 pounds) intermediate threat than a field-stretcher.
ALBERT WILSON, 27, MIAMI DOLPHINS
If the Patriots want more of a vertical presence to pair with Sanu, Edelman and Harry upon Harry's return, Wilson is an interesting name. The undersized burner would be about a $3.5 million cap hit if acquired in a trade. Not easy. But not totally unmanageable, either. He's only played in three games this season, but seems healthy now (45 snaps in Week 6 and 7) and has plenty of speed. Last season, in seven games, he had at least one catch of 20 yards or more in five. The Patriots obviously have a relationship with the folks in Miami and might be able to provide them a pick of value in a deal. Even though the Patriots and Jets swung a deal earlier this year involving Demaryius Thomas, something involving Wilson feels a little more likely than something involving rival Jets No. 1 wideout Robby Anderson, whose cap hit in a deal would be only about $1.5 million.
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