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Bill Belichick: Probably best WR competition since I’ve been here

New York Jets v New England Patriots

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 25: Head coach Bill Belichick reacts with Julian Edelman #11 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

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The Patriots signed wide receivers Chris Hogan and Nate Washington as free agents this offseason and drafted two more wideouts in April, giving the team a variety of options to go with their holdovers from last year’s team.

We’re still in the early stages of camp, but coach Bill Belichick likes how the competition is coming together. Belichick said on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan that he thinks the battle for spots on the 53-man roster will be as or more heated than any other in his time with the team.

“I think our competition at receiver is good, it’s probably as good as it’s been since I’ve been here,” Belichick said. “All of those guys are capable at whatever it is. They have different styles at different positions -- slot guys or outside guys -- but whatever it is, they’re very competitive and capable players that, I think, have a lot to offer and are going to be very competitive. Obviously, we can’t keep all of them, but it should be a good battle. They all have skill.”

Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola would seem to be secure in their roles at the top of the depth chart and Hogan seems a good bet to join them. If that’s the case, Washington, fourth-rounder Malcolm Mitchell, Keshawn Martin and the others would be trying to provide other skills to add to the mix.

Of course, any discussion of receiving targets in New England has to include tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett. Belichick called them “kind of interchangeable” in terms of the things they can do in the passing game and thinks they’ll put pressure on defenses, which would help the Patriots offense during and after Tom Brady’s suspension.