After 11 years, the New England Patriots have quietly begun preparing for a successor to take over for wide receiver Julian Edelman.
That’s a mistake the Patriots won’t let happen again.
Julian Edelman has held many different roles for the Patriots throughout his 11-year career. In that time, Edelman has established himself as being the main producer for the Patriots and a player that the franchise has built around during the last eight years.
In Bill Belichick’s coaching regime in New England, the slot receivers hold a large responsibility in the Patriots offense and essentially – through motions and offsets – set up the look of the entire play. Edelman has excelled in this role since 2013, but it’s fair to assume that the reliable 33-year-old receiver could be on the verge of retirement within the next couple of years.
With that premise in mind, the Patriots have slowly begun adding potential slot receiver replacements over the last year or so. They have been able to find candidates through the undrafted free agency process, with the goal in mind of preparing the next workhorse and main producer for the future of the team.
Last year, Gunner Olszewski and Jakobi Meyers were the undrafted pair to make the team, as both showed great promise and progress along the way. The duo will have a great opportunity to do so again in 2020 — I believe they both will make the team — but with much more added competition.
Since the start of the offseason, the Patriots have brought in seven additional undrafted wide receivers who have the same build as Edelman — which makes nine total on the Patriots roster heading into their offseason workout program:
- Damiere Byrd- 5’9, 180 lbs (Undrafted, 2015)
- Quincy Adeboyejo- 6’3, 200 lbs (Undrafted,2017)
- Will Hastings- 5’10, 174 lbs (Undrafted, 2020)
- Sean Riley- 5’8, 178 lbs (Undrafted, 2020)
- Devin Ross- 5’11, 185 lbs (Undrafted, 2020)
- Jeff Thomas- 5’10, 174 lbs (Undrafted, 2020)
- Isaiah Zuber- 6’0, 190 lbs (Undrafted, 2020)
The Patriots would love to delegate some of the dirty work as a returner away from Edelman, but so far have been unsuccessful in doing so.
It’s fair to say that with the amount of receivers currently on the roster, the Patriots will be optimistic about finding their potential Edelman successor — however, that is only if Oslzewski hasn’t already done enough to claim the position.
The New England Patriots learned the hard way last season that you need a backup plan for every position. Given the current state of the offense, it would make sense for the team to ride through the season with a few additional slot receivers on the roster who can learn the ropes from Edelman in preparation for when he is ready to hang ‘em up for good.