Patriots: Is Julian Edelman getting less playing time because of drop issues?

Is Patriots WR Julian Edelman playing less snaps because of his drop issues?

Patriots fans have been chomping at the bit for the franchise to pull off a trade for a star wide receiver or tight end (or both) ahead of the Nov. 3 deadline.

While quarterback Cam Newton has vehemently denied the notion that the offense could prove to benefit from adding a weapon, we’d love to see how he’d look with having a proven No. 1 wideout to target regularly. Going back to his tenure in Carolina, the former MVP has never really had that luxury.

It goes without saying that Julian Edelman is currently serving as the Patriots’ top WR, but he certainly hasn’t been playing like one. Outside of a vintage performance in Week 2 against Seattle’s non-existent secondary, the 34-year-old vet has tallied just 10 receptions for 115 yards in three games.

As evidenced by his 60% catch rate, Edelman clearly isn’t making the most of his opportunities, but that can also come down to his reduced playing time. In our eyes, it might be time to start asking if that has something to do with his drop issues.

Playing without Cam Newton, who was shelved on the COVID-19 reserve list, Edelman did nothing to help the Patriots’ backup quarterbacks, dropping two very catchable balls against Kansas City, one of which resulted in a pick-six and gave the Chiefs a 16-point lead with less than nine minutes remaining in regulation.

Edelman has now dropped 11 passes since the start of last season, which is three more than any other player during that span. As dreadful of a game as that was from the former seventh-round pick, his decreased snap count surprisingly became a trend back in Week 1, when he played just 58% of the time, which was his lowest since Week 3 of the 2019 season, when he left injured before halftime.

Prior to that, Edelman hadn’t played fewer than 60% of snaps in a single game since Week 16 of the 2016 campaign, when he played 49% in a 38-point drubbing of the Jets. For added context, the three-time champion played 87% of New England’s offensive snaps last year and played more than 90% in nine games.

In true leadership fashion, Edelman took full responsibility for his performance in Week 4 and is looking forward to the opportunity to atone for his miscues on Sunday against Denver, which is proceeding as scheduled in light of more COVID-19 controversy.

We’ll certainly be expecting a bounce-back game from Edelman, but Patriots fans should definitely keep tabs on his snap count as well. He’s popped up on the injury report seemingly all season, but a warrior of his stature, even at his age, wouldn’t let that slow him down.

Edelman’s reduced playing time is either due to his continued drop issues or the fact that he’s lost a step. Maybe it’s a combination of both, but we tend to lean towards the former as his miscues have cost the Patriots dearly since the start of last season.