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A closer look at the Patriots’ decision to bring back WR Donte Stallworth

03.19.12 at 3:32 pm ET

The return of Donte Stallworth provides the Patriots with more options when it comes to finding an intermediate to deep threat in the New England passing game.

The 31-year-old Stallworth is not the deep threat he once was (he averaged more than 19 yards a catch two different years), but he can still stretch the field from time to time. He doesn’t do anything to make the position any younger, but his knowledge of the Patriots’ system and his route-running skills made him attractive to New England, and while he isn’t the burner he used to be, it was clear there was still something left in the tank, especially when the Patriots met the Redskins late in the 2011 season. In that one, Stallworth had four catches for a team-high 96 yards.

No contractual details are immediately available, but like Anthony Gonzalez (who signed a one-year deal for $701,000, payable only if he makes the team), on the surface, it appears to be a low-risk, potentially high-reward addition for an offense that could use depth at the position going forward.

Less than a week into free agency, the Patriots have picked up three veteran receivers in Stallworth, Gonzalez and Brandon Lloyd. And it appears that they are doing with the wide receiver spot what they did with the defensive line spot last season: bring as many tested veterans in, sift through and find the ones who can play, and toss the rest.

In that vein, the addition of Stallworth will certainly certainly create an interesting positional battle for the outside receiver spot. Right now on the roster, the Patriots have Stallworth, Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco and Tiquan Underwood, while veteran Deion Branch remains a possibility to return in 2012.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency, Anthony Gonzalez, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco



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