The New England Patriots surely expected more from wide receiver Mohamed Sanu when they traded a 2020 second-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons for him.
When the New England Patriots sent a 2020 second-round draft pick to the Atlanta Falcons a week before the trade deadline, they absolutely had high hopes for the return on their investment. They were, after all, sacrificing quite a lot to acquire Mohamed Sanu, a 30-year-old wide receiver who was expected to immediately make an impact on the Patriots’ mediocre offense this season.
So far through six games of action, it just hasn’t happened.
No one expected Sanu to come blazing out of the gates in Foxborough during his first game as a Patriot against the Cleveland Browns. That’s obviously what happened with Antonio Brown back in Week 2 against the Miami Dolphins, but any rational-minded NFL fan knows that Sanu is not Brown by any stretch of the imagination.
Still, the early results were encouraging with Sanu teaming up with Tom Brady – particularly in his second game with his new team.
Even though the Pats ended up losing by double-digits against the Ravens in Baltimore, Sanu was a bright spot on offense for New England, leading the team in catches and targets with 10 and 14, respectively, on the evening for 81 receiving yards. He also scored his first touchdown as a Patriot that night as well.
After the Patriots’ Week 10 bye, however, Sanu has done virtually nothing to support the cause of the New England offense in its mission to finally snap out of a season-long slumber. His receiving stat-line in the Pats’ last four contests is as follows:
- two catches on four targets for four yards versus Eagles
- three catches on five targets for 14 yards versus Texans
- one catch on one target for 13 yards versus Chiefs
- two catches on eight targets for 13 yards versus Bengals
Sanu didn’t play against the Cowboys because of an ankle injury.
Add those four games in with his two games against the Browns and Ravens, and Sanu is averaging just three catches, six targets, and 24 yards per game as a Patriot. He currently ranks eighth on the team’s list of top receivers this season, behind guys like Josh Gordon, Benjamin Watson, and Rex Burkhead… all three of whom have missed major chunks of this year as well.
It’s clear that the Patriots need Sanu to kick it up a notch as well. Julian Edelman, the only receiver who’s been consistently useful to this team all season, is now dealing with a potentially serious knee injury in addition to a shoulder injury. Edelman previously had a chest injury as well, and has been playing through the pain all year.
Outside of No. 11, there’s not a whole lot of other options for Brady to throw to over the final two weeks of the regular season and then into the playoffs.
Watson has been practically non-existent this year in his second stint with the team that drafted him, and the other tight ends on the roster (Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo) have a combined 18 catches between them all year.
Jakobi Meyers has struggled to get on the same page with Brady at times, Gunner Olszewski is on IR, Matthew Slater has just one career reception as a receiver, and N’Keal Harry is just now getting a taste of regular season action as a rookie after missing the first half of the season with an injury.
Who else is there for the Patriots? Josh Gordon is gone – both from the team and now from the league in general. Antonio Brown is gone. Phillip Dorsett has been in and out of the starting lineup all year as he continues to contend with injuries and long stretches of ineffectiveness. Sony Michel still hasn’t shown he can be relied upon consistently in the passing game.
About the only option for Brady to throw to outside of Edelman is James White. Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden have also demonstrated good hands and reliability, but are the Patriots really going to leave it up to a trio of running backs to anchor their pass-catching position if Edelman remains hampered by his injuries?
The only real solution for the Pats is for Mohamed Sanu to step up and start playing like the guy they thought he’d be when they sent Atlanta a second-round pick. Sanu has been overthrown by Brady on a few easy passes, but more often than not, he’s either dropped passes that have hit him in the hands or the chest, or he’s run poor routes and struggled to get open in coverage.
That all needs to change – and fast – if the Patriots want to have any hope of making some noise in the playoffs this year. It all starts with No. 14; Sanu had better be ready. Brady and New England are going to need him down the stretch this winter.