Although the arrival of wide receivers Danny Amendola and Donald Jones are well appreciated, the New England Patriots are still facing the need for a wide receiver. Talks about the acquisition of Pittsburgh Steelers Emmanuel Sanders have quiet down since an offer sheet was not yet signed, in part due because the clubs have until April 19 to sign any restricted free agent to an offer sheet.
Whether this deal will work out or not, another option rests on April 25th. But should the Patriots look further when wide receiver Julian Edelman still remains a free agent? Why not use the draft and free agency option?
The New England Patriots seventh round (232nd overall) of the 2009 NFL Draft is still available, and to tell the truth, I’m surprised he still is in the open market. Edelman, like Danny Woodhead, is one of those players who were not invited to the NFL Combine. Nevertheless, the Kent State product, recorded a 3.92 seconds on a 20-yard short shuttle, 4.52 seconds in the 40-yard dash, 6.62 seconds in the 3 cone drill, 36 ½” in the vertical jump and 10’3” broad jump during his pro day.
Although his durability is in question, that is an issue that any player is subject to as risk of injury is part of the game. Don’t get me wrong, I think some players are just “an injury waiting to happen”, but in the case of Edelman, it was probably just “bad luck”.
I think of Edelman as flexible and hard-working as Danny Woodhead and he might be the wide receiver needed as“insurance” in the depth chart that could actually have a significant increase in play-time.
As a way to determine suitability in the wide receiver slot position, Edelman’s snap count increased in the first two games of the 2012 season, but diminished after an injury in Week 3 causing him to miss the next three games. Having Welker back in business, Edelman’s chance to shine grew slim. But on Week 11, he had a superb game catching five passes for 58 yards and a touchdown, 47 yards on a single rushing attempt, and two punts return for a total of 117 yards, which the first was a 68-yard for a touchdown.
I don’t consider him suitable for the slot position because I don’t think he plays in slot too well, and often in time, he misread routes which don’t synchronize with Tom Brady’s play call. Just like Kyle Arrington is a great cornerback in the slot, but not so great playing on the outside, I think of Edelman playing great as a wide receiver on the outside, but not so great in the slot. Edelman plays extremely well on open-field and on short-passing game out of the slot. He has versatility, speed-burst, and quick-feet. Youth and versatility is an advantage he has as opposed to Brandon Lloyd.
Another quality I like in Edelman is his awareness of the game which makes him a good opportunist on the field. During the New York Jets game on Thanksgiving, Edelman scored two touchdowns. He recovered a Jets fumble and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown. His next catch was a 56-yard touchdown from Tom Brady.
I totally see Edelman as an extraordinary combination of a wide receiver/special team – a talent that should not be overlooked. Whereas some are curious to see what a Amendola-Sanders duo might look like, I am eager to see what a Washington-Edelman duo results could be.
The Patriots just signed former Seattle Seahawks running back Leon Washington – a killer in the running, returning and receiving game. Washington has the NFL record kickoff return touchdowns (8) tied with Josh Cribbs, and tied an NFL record when he returned two kicks for a touchdown in a single game against the San Diego in 2010.
If Edelman returns to the Patriots, it will reinforce the special team as a punt returner and boost the wide receiver position. During playoffs and Super Bowl one of the worst mistake a team can make is to allow the special team to run free to the end zone during a kick or punt return. I think that Edelman and Washington together on that offense and special team will add a value that some do not perceive as a “Super Bowl jackpot”. Re-signing Edelman on a three-year $10 to $12 million is probably a number that the Patriots would go for.
It was bad enough to give Denver Broncos Peyton Manning another weapon (Wes Welker), the least the Patriots can do is to prevent the Houston Texans from enforcing their offense with a Julian Edelman addition as they just supplemented their defense with Ed Reed.
Let’s re-sign Edelman!
Follow Celia Westbrook on Twitter @celiawestbrook