There has been plenty of discussion about what the New England Patriots should do about wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon LaFell. Should they be cut or should they be offered a chance to restructure their contracts? Depending on whom you ask, a lot of people would say they should be cut.
Cutting both, especially Danny Amendola, wouldn’t be a smart decision at all. Yes, lingering injuries and performance play a part in questioning whether they should remain in Foxborough, but it seems last season has already been forgotten.
During the 2014 regular season, LaFell had a career high in numbers (74 receptions, 953 yards, 7TDs) and although Amendola had a very quiet regular season (27 receptions, 200 yards, 1TD), he began to gain Brady’s trust again and had critical plays against the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks.
Fast forward a season later and LaFell spent the season trying to get back to 100% after having a case of the drops and missing six games to a toe injury, while Amendola was dealing with a knee issue.
So why should the Patriots keep them?
First of all, they have plenty of experience and familiarity with the Patriots offense. With a base of the Erhardt-Perkins offense, the Patriots posses one of the hardest offenses in the league to grasp. We’ve seen multiple rookies and veterans walk in and out confused due to it’s complexity and how quickly players can fall on the depth chart. At the beginning of the 2014 season, LaFell struggled to have chemistry with Tom Brady, but eventually picked up the offense in week six. Amendola, who has been with the organization for 3 years, has certainly had an understanding of the offense having been with OC Josh McDaniels during his tenure in St.Louis. If there is some kind of stability, why move on?
In addition, the group of free agent wide receivers this season isn’t all too impressive. Yes, there are some solid options such as Marvin Jones, Mohammed Sanu, and Travis Benjamin, but they may be out the Patriots price range. There are also some cheaper, veteran options such as Anquan Boldin, Marques Colston, and Roddy White, but it seems likely the Patriots would chose a younger receiver.
Although, since being trade from the Seahawks, WR Percy Harvin and the Patriots have been connected during the off-season. Harvin, a free agent after the Buffalo Bills voided his three year contract, would be a great fit to the Patriots offense as a dynamic receiver. However, character and injuries (Has not played more than 9 games since 2011 season) are also two red flags when speaking about of the 27 year old.
There’s also a good chance the Patriots may draft a wide receiver this season, but it might be in the later rounds (Round 4-7), unless they surprise the nation again and select a receiver in the 2nd round (Aaron Dobson, 2013). However, there have been reports that the Patriots may look to draft Rutgers’ WR Leonte Carroo or possibly WR Braxton Miller early in the second round. Despite there being plenty of well-rounded receivers, they will still be rookies and likely won’t be able to grasp the offense immediately.
Worst case scenario, if the Patriots do decide to move on from one, it likely will be LaFell, as Amendola proves to not only be a solid option in the slot, but he also offers value on special teams as well – granted he takes a pay cut. Amendola is supposed to make $7 million dollars this upcoming season. Julian Edelman, the Patriots #1 WR, is set to make $5 million, so it’s clear there will be some kind of negation.
Wide receiver is a not #1 need, but could certainly use an upgrade, as they look to another dynamic receiver to help stretch the field. Ever since Randy Moss left Foxborough, there has been apparently “need” of a deep threat. The Patriots don’t necessarily need a deep threat, but they need another quality receiver beside Julian Edelman.
It’s hard to say whether they will look to go through free agency or the draft, but New England needs to figure out what they plan to do soon as it will be vital to the future.