What it means for the New England Patriots since they signed veteran free agent wide receiver Marqise Lee just hours before the 2020 NFL Draft.
The New England Patriots realized the need of some offensive weaponry to accompany their new starting quarterback this season. In doing so, the Patriots have signed veteran wide receiver Marqise Lee to a one-year deal.
Lee was drafted high in the second-round (39th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. Due to a handful of different reasons and variables, Lee unfortunately never truly amounted to the player the Jaguars had hoped for over the last six years.
Although Lee is considered to be a high-end draft pick, he was never the true number one receiver for the Jaguars, and for years, he was the number three receiver on the depth chart due to battling with Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns for playing time.
Lee has also spent some time on the injured reserve list over the last few seasons. After signing a $38 million contract extension in 2018, Lee had to undergo season-ending knee surgery after a critical knee injury suffered in a preseason game that year, tearing his ACL, MCL, and PCL in his left knee.
The following year, last season, Lee was limited to six games before being placed on IR for the rest of the season with knee issues. The Jaguars decided to release Lee earlier this week, making him an available free agent.
Ironically enough, the last meaningful game that Lee really played in was in 2017 when the Jaguars were defeated by the Patriots in the AFC championship game. Lee finished the game with four receptions for 42 yards.
So what does Bill Belichick see in Lee that can help the New England Patriots in 2020?
Well to start, the New England Patriots could benefit from some veteran experience to the position. Other than Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu, the Patriots don’t have any receivers with more than a few years of collective experience on their roster. Lee will join a Patriots receiving corps that consists of Edelman, Sanu, N’keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers, Gunner Olszewski, Damiere Byrd, Devin Ross, and Quincy Adeboyejo.
Lee is six-feet-tall, just under 200 pounds, and has the potential to stretch the field for the Patriots. Although he hasn’t played much football over the last two seasons, I think that could be a blessing in disguise for both Lee and the Patriots. The great news here is that Lee had to pass a physical of some sort that showed that he is still capable of playing in the NFL.
It’s worth mentioning that the Patriots are essentially retooling and starting over on the offensive side of the ball after the departure of Tom Brady. A new quarterback that is under center and is still learning the playbook is going to be on the same page with a wide receiver who was just brought in and has no prior experience with the team, regardless of his years of experience in the league.
Lee is under 30 years old, spent a year off rehabbing, and has been resting his prime years away the last few years. He has only seen 100 targets once in his career and has never eclipsed 1,000 receiving yards or scored more than three touchdowns in a single season throughout his NFL career.
Considering the current state of the team, acquiring a veteran receiver like Lee should be exciting for Patriots fans. Bill Belichick has a history of picking up once considered high-end prospects who haven’t had the greatest careers in the NFL and turning them into integral play making players on his teams.
If Lee can prove to be healthy and worthy of being on the field, the New England Patriots would have a core receiving group of Edelman, Sanu, Harry, and Lee, which isn’t so bad on paper. Lee and Harry can go deep to stretch the field, while Sanu handles the routes in the middle, and Edelman runs the show from the slot.
It’s not an ideal or perfect situation, but the Patriots are trying to gather different skill sets for the position and are doing a pretty good job of doing so thus far.