The New England Patriots announced on Tuesday that they have fortified their thin wide receiver position by signing free agent Demaryius Thomas.
The New England Patriots continue to revamp their receiving corps in the wake of their sixth Super Bowl championship. With Chris Hogan leaving for the Carolina Panthers, Cordarrelle Patterson going to the Chicago Bears, Dwayne Allen signing with the Miami Dolphins, and Rob Gronkowski retiring from the NFL altogether, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will once again find himself surrounded by a strange new cast of characters as he attempts to put together yet another winning season.
As far as continuity is concerned, there’s not a whole lot of it in the New England receiving hierarchy. Among 2018 starters, only Super Bowl MVP Julian Edelman and the sparingly-used Philip Dorsett return in 2019 at wideout. Josh Gordon could theoretically finish rehab and get reinstated into the NFL at some point down the line, but that remains a long shot at best (particularly this season).
Tight end isn’t much better for the Patriots. With Gronkowski and Allen both out of the picture, that leaves just the newly-acquired but perpetually-disappointing Seferian-Jenkins to battle for snaps with relative unknowns like Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, Jacob Hollister, and Stephen Anderson. In fact, it’d be a surprise if most of the names listed in the previous sentence are even on the final 53-man roster come this September.
The morale of the story is the Patriots desperately need reinforcements at the wide receiver and tight end positions. Seferian-Jenkins and Thomas might not be the best answers for the team – it’s not even a guarantee they both make it to Week 1 – but at the very least, they’re physical proof that Bill Belichick and the rest of the New England brain trust are at least making an effort to fill some of the holes on this roster.
Demaryius Thomas probably has the better shot at making significant contributions in 2019, assuming he makes a complete recovery from the torn Achilles that ended his season last year, of course. A former first-round draft pick in Denver, Thomas was at one point the No. 1 receiver for the Broncos. At his peak between 2012 and 2016, he was a lock for 1,000 yards and a Pro Bowl berth each and every season.
He just barely missed that mark in 2017, but in 2018, his production was nearly cut in half. Traded mid-season to the Houston Texans, Thomas showed flashes of his potential but ultimately saw his career resurgence dreams squashed by an untimely torn Achilles in Week 16 at the end of December.
The Patriots are hoping that Thomas makes a quick and thorough recovery from that injury, and that he’ll be ready to go come September. If he is, he’ll inherit the best quarterback situation he’s ever had in what would be his 10th NFL season.