Patriots shouldn’t be comfortable with current wide receiver depth chart


As we stand just a few months away from training camp, the Patriots have a few needs remaining with wide receiver being at the top.

It appears the Patriots are close to signing veteran tight end Ben Watson, so while that position still isn’t great, it’s better than it was.

Meanwhile, wide receiver is still fairly weak.

Following the release of Bruce Ellington with an injury designation on Wednesday, the Patriots have the following at wide receiver: Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, N’Keal Harry, Demaryius Thomas, Braxton Berrios, Maurice Harris, Matthew Slater, Damoun Patterson, Jakobi Meyers, Ryan Davis and Xavier Ubosi. Josh Gordon should also be considered, but since he’s still suspended he is not on the active roster.

If Gordon and Thomas work out perfectly, things could be OK, but that is asking a lot. And as was displayed last year during training camp, things can happen so it is best to be prepared with a backup plan and even a backup to that backup.

The only player who has a defined role is Edelman since even last year Dorsett had his fair share of issues getting the targets a No. 3 receiver should. He seems primed for a jump, but the same was said last year at this time.

Harry has tremendous talent, but it’s hard to count on a rookie to make a huge impact in the Patriots offense. He obviously will be on the roster and contribute, it’s just a big question of exactly how much. Berrios is in the same boat after spending his rookie season on IR. He has the ability to contribute, but it’s a question of just how much.

Then there’s a mix of veterans who haven’t done much and undrafted rookies who will be battling for the final roster spots and again, it’s hard to count on any of them.

What this means is the Patriots should still be looking to add a proven veteran at the position — someone they know can contribute at least something.

There aren’t too many free agents available with the best option being Michael Crabtree, so maybe the trade route is best to explore. Looking at depth charts across the league following the draft, there are likely a few players who are No. 3/4 receivers and would be better off in other places because of what is in front of them. The Patriots have a number of 2020 draft picks, so why not trade a mid-rounder for a proven receiver?

New England cannot afford to enter training camp with the current group of receivers because there are so many question marks, and it isn’t like the tight end position is outstanding, either.

So while Ellington being released was a minor move, it served as a reminder the wide receiver position is one the team should not be satisfied with and more needs to be done.