In March, the Patriots sent a first-round and third-round pick to the New Orleans Saints in exchange for a fourth-round pick and star wide receiver Brandin Cooks. Combined with the restructuring of Danny Amendola‘s contract and extending Julian Edelman through the 2019 season, the Patriots are locked and loaded with a more talented group than last year’s squad. With plenty of young talent on the roster, as well as seasoned veterans, there simply isn’t space for everyone. Here’s how the roster, with respective to the wide receivers, will play out.
New England Patriots Wide Receiver Battle: Who’s In, Who’s Out
Julian Edelman has been a possession receiver for Brady, amassing averages of 69.9 yards per game and 6.5 receptions per game over the last four seasons. Putting aside the obvious bromance between receiver and quarterback, Edelman has grown from a special teams player in his early years to become one of the faces of the Patriots franchise. Edelman is most certainly a lock to make the final roster as a key Patriots wide receiver.
Brandin Cooks has had quite the career of his own in his first three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. Despite an early-end to his rookie campaign (2014) due to a broken thumb, Cooks has been productive his last two seasons, accumulating 2,311 receiving yards and 17 receiving touchdowns over that span. As one of the more talented young receivers in the league, there is no doubt that the Patriots will look forward to utilizing this newly acquired, elite receiver.
Chris Hogan, nicknamed “7-Eleven” by teammates for his ability to “always be open,” comes into the fold as the Patriots best deep threat heading into this season. Hogan, who joined the team via free agency in the 2015 off-season after four seasons with the Buffalo Bills, led the NFL in yards per reception last season with a whopping 17.9 yard average. He continued that success into the postseason, highlighted by his nine reception, 180-yard, two touchdown performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. With his showing last season, Hogan should have no worries about making the final cut.
Malcolm Mitchell, the Patriots fourth-round draft pick in 2016, leads the young core of receivers in the New England locker room. Despite only entering the fold for 48.1% of the Patriots offensive snaps last season, Mitchell showed flashes of his potential towards the end of the regular season. In the Patriots Super Bowl LI comeback, Mitchell played a pivotal role, going 5-for-5 on targets from Brady in the fourth quarter. Of the five receptions, four earned the Patriots a first down conversion. Despite his difficulty to get on the field this off-season, Mitchell looks to have secured his spot on the roster.
It was speculated by many that the Patriots and Danny Amendola would part ways this off-season. Regardless of his contributions on both special teams and offense over the past four seasons, the aging wideout was thought to be taking up too much cap space for his number four or five spot on the depth chart. Amendola was able to restructure his contract with the Patriots in April to clear up $4.75 million in cap space. After restructuring, Amendola looks to be safe and sound on the Patriots roster.
Matthew Slater has been a staple on the Patriots roster over his nine-year career. Despite accumulating one reception in that time, Slater is still listed as a wide receiver. However, that doesn’t mean Slater isn’t a leader on and off the field. For his leadership and character, the wide receiver was awarded the Bart Starr award in 2017, an honor his father earned in 1996. Additionally, Slater is a six-time Pro Bowl selection at the special teams position.
Slater has missed the first two preseason games with a hamstring injury. However, Slater is expected to be a lock in making the roster. Depending on his availability, Slater may start the season on IR with designation to return.
Austin Carr has been the breakout performer so far throughout the preseason and training camp. Highlighted by a leaping touchdown grab against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the wideout has seen heaps of praise from the media. However, the list of established receivers may be an issue for Carr. Although there is a chance of Bill Belichick keeping a seventh wide receiver on the roster, that chance is fairly small. Depending on Slater’s availability for Week one, Carr may find himself with a roster spot to begin the season. Ultimately, expect to see Carr on the Patriots practice squad.
Devin Lucien is a hard working player with a lot of upside. Despite a very unnoticeable four-year stint at UCLA, the 24-year old burst onto the scene at Arizona State. After transferring as a graduate, Lucien racked up 1,075 receiving yards, more than his four previous seasons combined. Nevertheless, the practice squad was where Lucien found himself after 2016’s 53-man roster cuts. Unfortunately for Lucien, it appears that may be where he is headed this season as well.
Cody Hollister is a name Patriots fans have gotten used to hearing this training camp (well, at least the name Hollister). Unfortunately for Cody, much of the talk surrounds his twin brother, tight end Jacob Hollister. At Arkansas, the 23-year old Cody Hollister saw inconsistent playing time on offense. In the Razorbacks special team game, Cody Hollister saw additional time on the field. However, with the level of talent exhibited by Matthew Slater and his Pro Bowl nominations, it seems the buck stops here for part two of the “Hollister Brothers.” There simply is no space for him on the roster.
Tony Washington & K.J. Maye
Tony Washington and K.J. Maye are both in the same situation. Both players have a résumé of bouncing around practice squads since entering the league. Their addition was seen as just an extra body on the field. Although Maye finished the Patriots first preseason match-up with six receptions and a touchdown, neither one has made a name for themselves this off-season. With so much talent in the offense and neither player finding a way to gain any traction so far, it’s only a matter of time before they are sent packing.