Heading into the 2019 season, the New England Patriots have a serious depth problem at wider receiver. This could open the door for Braxton Berrios.
Last season, Jordan Matthews, Eric Decker, Kenny Britt and Corey Coleman were all brought in to help Tom Brady. Unfortunately for the Patriots, none of them worked out. Matthews and Britt sustained hamstring injuries in training camp and were released. Eric Decker decided to retire.
The current crop of wideouts is very similar to last year. Brady will have the ageing Julian Edelman, although he continues to defy the odds. He also has Phillip Dorsett, a player who Brady appeared to go cold on during the season. The Pats let him go to free agency before bringing him back at a reduced salary. Bruce Ellington was brought in through free agency, but he won’t be a go to receiver for Tom Brady. Josh Gordon is another option for the Patriots. However, he is subject to a potential suspension and may not play until mid-season at the earliest.
The lack of depth at WR opens the door for Braxton Berrios, a player drafted in 2018. Braxton was drafted out of the University of Miami in the 6th round (pick 210 overall). Once drafted he was compared to Danny Amendola, and was viewed as a replacement if Amendola left in free agency. And he did, signing a 2-year deal with the Miami Dolphins.
It was reported after Danny was released from the Dolphins this offseason, both the Patriots and Amendola were interested in reuniting. Instead Amendola signed a 1-year deal with the Detroit Lions. A move that won’t have concerned the Pats front office and coaching staff too much with a ready-made replacement waiting in the wings.
During the 2018 training camp, Braxton suffered an undisclosed injury and was put on IR prior to the regular season. Obviously, a slight setback for the young wide receivers’ career, but the signs are obvious as to what he will add to the Patriots offense in 2019. He is a slot receiver, but can get down the field if needed, particularly in the Red Zone. He can create separation from defensive backs, and has the speed to turn a small 5-yard pass into a 60-yard touchdown.
His UM career was full of highlights. As a junior he saw action mainly as a punt returner, and had 12 returns for 178 yards and 2 touchdowns. As a senior he started all 13 games. He had 55 receptions for 679 yards and 9 touchdowns, including a 21-yard TD pass in a big win over their rivals Florida State, who UM beat for the first time since 2009.
When you look at the depth chart, and how hard they went after players like Adam Humphries, Cole Beasley and Golden Tate, they obviously realize how dire the situation is at WR. In the draft I would expect them to address this situation with at least 1 of their 12 draft picks. But on the plus side they have a young talented wideout waiting in the wings to showcase his skills on the big stage. I’d expect to see him getting a lot of reps during training camp, and to get a lot of time on the field during the pre-season.