Whenever there’s a discussion of a disgruntled star potentially on the move, the New England Patriots are typically the first destination to come up.
Bill Belichick has long had a reputation for housing reclamation projects, most notably Randy Moss after a disastrous Oakland Raiders stint. There’s also Antonio Brown and Chad Ochocinco, so the plan has varying degrees of success.
Recently, Odell Beckham Jr. laid a stinker (no pun intended) against the Baltimore Ravens, where he had an egregious drop and didn’t seem interested in getting open. Then, with another franchise with frustrating quarterback situations, Allen Robinson erased the Chicago Bears from his social media accounts like a bad break-up movie. Both situations got people thinking the talented receivers could be on the way out, and a team like New England would be an obvious fit. The Patriots badly need a wide receiver to help Cam Newton, Julian Edelman and this new look Patriots offense.
Newton didn’t throw the ball much, but in 19 dropbacks, he threw to receivers 13 times. All of those throws were to Edelman and N’Keal Harry. Both receivers did a solid job overall. Harry’s separation struggles continued, plus he fumbled into the end zone which led to a turnover, curtesy of the dumbest rule in football.
N’Keal Harry fumbles just short of the goalline through the endzone. Turns it over.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 13, 2020
Harry ranked dead last in separation last season among all qualifying NFL WRs. pic.twitter.com/oLuAuwxYAa
Harry and Edelman looked solid, but new addition Damiere Byrd was absent in week one, minus a muffed punt.
Beckham Jr. and Robinson would be major additions and the Patriots have cap space to get it done. Robinson has proven to be one of the best pass-catchers in the league, despite playing with Blake Bortles and Mitch Trubisky.
Pro Football Focus rates Robinson among the best catchers of difficult targets in the league. He could be key to helping New England’s red zone struggles from last season, where they ranked 26th. His size would most likely move Harry to the bench, as they have comparable size and skill set, but Robinson is just much better. He had 98 receptions, 1,147 yards and seven touchdowns with Trubisky last season, and 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns in just his second season in the league with Bortles. He’s an elite wide receiver with seemingly less headaches than Beckham Jr.
While Beckham Jr. hasn’t shown as much in recent years, he offers a much higher upside and versatility. He’s known for the jaw-dropping catches, but what makes OBJ special is his ability to line up everywhere. He can play out wide, in the slot, or run on reverses in the backfield. Belichick craves players who are versatile to keep opposing defenses on their toes. Beckham gives him that opportunity.
Either would be a huge addition for the Patriots, but nothing is imminent. Beckham could be had for a similar price tag to Mohammed Sanu last season, though the Patriots lost one of their third-round picks to the filming incident in Cincinnati. New England should get plenty of compensatory picks in the draft to make up for it, but it’s still one less pick to play with. Robinson, even in a contract year, may cost a little more.
If they feel like they can compete with the Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens, either receiver could get the Patriots over the hump.
Photo: (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)