Four final Friday thoughts on the Patriots and free agency
|03.16.13 at 12:37 am ET|
Four Patriots-related thoughts as business comes to a close on Friday:
Danny Amendola: In his conference call with the media on Friday, Amendola was quick to point out that he’s not just a slot receiver. But an NFC scout who has spent a lot of time watching Amendola over the last few years paints a different picture. In an e-mail to WEEI.com on Friday, the scout talked about some of the differences between Wes Welker and Amendola, and what Patriots fans should expect with the new guy in the lineup.
‘Amendola is a very tough competitor that functions best in the slot. He doesn’t have the quickness of Welker inside, but he can be a solid contributor in there because of his competitiveness. It will be interesting to see if he can develop a relationship with Brady the way that Welker did. He doesn’t have the ability to set up a defensive back as consistently as Welker, because Welker’s ability to do that is rare. His injury history is a concern, but I do feel the Patriots can get some of that Welker-like production out of him as long as they don’t think that he is Welker.’
Donald Jones and Emmanuel Sanders: While there’s a lot to like about both new receivers, this looks like one of those situations where you stack as much depth at one spot as possible and then let the chips fall where they may. (Not unlike how the team approached the defensive line spot in 2011 … when, at one point, they had approximately 142 defensive linemen in training camp before narrowing the field.) As it stands right now, the Patriots have a distinct lack of depth at the receiver spot, but even so, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them add more depth at the position sooner rather than later. But as is their way, the Patriots will sign as many guys now, sift through and find the ones who can and can’t play, and go from there. They do have to make a decision about what to do about Brandon Lloyd, who is due a $3 million bonus if he’s on the roster at the end of the day on Saturday — although they could re-do his deal.
(UPDATE, 7:43 a.m.: There are conflicting reports right now as to whether or not Sanders has signed his offer sheet.)
Adrian Wilson: The addition of Wilson has tremendous potential. As we said here, the only question is how much he has left in the tank, but as is the case with possible Patriots Dwight Freeney and John Abraham, Wilson would almost certainly be a situational guy, at least at this point in his career. One consideration is that being an oversized safety (he checks in at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds — for comparisons sake, Dane Fletcher is 6-foot-2, 245 pounds), Wilson could play more of a hybrid role on defense, that ‘money’ defensive back position that often takes over for a linebacker when the Patriots move into dime coverage. Even if he doesn’t bring much to the field, he should be a positive veteran influence if he stays healthy — regarded as a high-character guy who is a good veteran presence, the 33-year-old could be a mentor for some of New England’s younger defensive backs.
Leon Washington: The veteran probably won’t get many reps on offense — unless there’s some sort of emergency situation, Shane Vereen likely has the job of third-down back sewn up. But he could be the one to break The Curse of Ellis Hobbs. The Patriots haven’t had a consistency kick returner on the roster since Hobbs was dealt to Philly in the spring of 2008. And while some of the tread has likely come off of Washington’s tires — he’ll turn 31 in August — he represents a terrific change for New England to change its fortunes when it comes to kick return work. The Patriots averaged just 21.2 yards per kickoff return last season, 25th in the NFL — meanwhile, Washington was second among returners with a 29.0 yard average as a member of the Seahawks.
‘One thing I did know about New England is that in talking to coach Bill Belichick and talking to [special teams] coach Scott O’Brien, they take special teams extremely seriously,’ said Washington, who joked that these days, 30 is the new 20. ‘They feel like if you play special teams — the return game and the coverage part of it too — you can actually win a football game by doing either one of them.’