The New England Patriots got a steal last season in Chris Hogan. After the Buffalo Bills failed to re-sign him, the Patriots made out like bandits.
It is very rare that a player guaranteed just $7.5 million can make such a difference at this level. But the New England Patriots, particularly head coach/general manager Bill Belichick, are known to find diamonds in the rough. Wide receiver Chris Hogan turned out to be one of them in 2016.
The former Penn State lacrosse player bounced around to four different NFL teams before ultimately landing in New England. Belichick, a former lax player himself, must have seen something in Hogan to sign him to a three-year offer sheet worth $12 million. The Buffalo Bills declined to match the offer, paving the way for him to become a Patriot.
Hogan made an immediate impact, hooking up with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo on the team’s first touchdown of the regular season. He hauled in a 37-yard scoring pass from Garoppolo and ended up with three receptions for 60 yards in his New England debut. More importantly, the Patriots defeated the Arizona Cardinals 23-21 in their season opener.
From there, Hogan continued his chemistry with Garoppolo, making four catches for 59 yards against the Miami Dolphins in Week 2. Unfortunately, Garoppolo injured his shoulder in the second quarter and missed the next two games. Hogan totaled just one catch for three yards combined in Weeks 3 and 4 with rookie Jacoby Brissett under center.
However, the best was yet to come for Hogan. When Tom Brady returned from his four-game suspension, Hogan enjoyed his best performance up until that point. He made four receptions for 114 yards in a Week 5 road game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Hogan would go on to have at least four catches in five of the next eight games. He would also score thee more touchdowns. The last game of that stretch was his second-best effort of the year, five receptions for 129 yards and one touchdown versus the Baltimore Ravens. He finished the regular season with 38 catches for 680 yards and four scores.
Still, Hogan saved his best performance for the playoffs. In the AFC Championship Game, he made a career-high nine receptions for a New England postseason-record 180 yards and scored two touchdowns.
It is hard to give Hogan anything less than an A for his first year with the Patriots. But averaging a little more than 45 yards over 15 regular-season games kept him a notch below that grade.