Michael Floyd enters a situation with Pats in which few have succeeded

Michael Floyd enters a situation with Pats in which few have succeeded

Is Michael Floyd good? Do his physical attributes make up for some questionable (to put it lightly) decisions off the field? Does the discrepancy in his targets and receptions fall on quarterback play, or is dude just swatting passes down like a defensive back? 

These are the obvious to ask, but they’re the wrong ones. There’s really only one question that matters, and it was posed by Phil Perry shortly after the Patriots claimed the 2012 13th overall pick from Arizona on Thursday. 

“We’ve seen guys come in, they’ve been here for the entire OTA sessions in the spring, all of training camp, and for the majority of the regular season and they still don’t can’t pick up the offense,” Perry said. “So why should we think Michael Floyd is going to have a little bit [of a] different fate?” 

Bingo. That’s the question we should be asking: Why should we confidently believe that the Pats can bring in a receiver from outside the organization during the season -- especially this late in the season -- and expect plug-and-play production? 

The fact of the matter is that such a tale is not common in New England. Dating back to the 2001 season, Jabar Gaffney (2006) and Deion Branch (2010) are really the only good examples of an in-season receiver addition having an impact, but both cases have massive asterisks. 

After not living up to the billing of being the 33rd overall pick in 2002, the Texans let Gaffney walk at the expiration of his rookie contract. He was signed for the 2006 season by the Eagles, but Philadelphia cut him before the season started. The Patriots signed him in during their bye week (Week 6), and he made his first catch with the Pats in Week 8. 

While Gaffney is correctly remembered as being a productive asset for Tom Brady, it took him a bit. Gaffney had 11 catches for 142 yards and one touchdown in seven regular-season games in 2006 before having 21 receptions for 244 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs. In the 2007 season, he had 36 grabs for 449 yards and five touchdowns. 

In 2010, there was Branch, for whom the Pats traded ahead of Week 6 following the trade of Randy Moss to the Vikings. Branch’s impact was immediate and significant, as he had nine receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown six days after being acquired. Despite joining the team late, he finished that season second on the team to Wes Welker in both receptions (48) and receiving yards (706). He also had five touchdowns. 

Of course, the caveat there is that he was Deion Branch, so he wasn’t really new. Branch had spent his first four seasons in New England, winning some type of individual trophy in February of 2005. 

There are plenty of other guys the Pats have added in-season, but other than those two, there’s really no other examples of success. J.J. Stokes? He was signed ahead of Week 12 in the 2002 season and had one catch in each of his two games before being released. One of those catches was a big one, however, as his 31-yard connection with Tom Brady set up a field goal against the Texans in Week 12. You remember that. 

Dedric Ward? He probably doesn't even count since he was in camp, cut and brought back during the 2003 season before reeling in seven catches over four games.

Fred Coleman? He had two grabs in the 2001 season after being signed in November.

Take the 12 or so guys in this group (depending on whether you want to count guys brought in and then signed off the practice squad), add in the Chad Ochocincos and Doug Gabriels of the world who had more time prepare and still failed, and you've got a pretty tough offense to walk into with any sort of significant production. 

So, when Bill Belichick said Friday morning that the acquisition of Floyd is not a “historical event,” history would agree with him. The Pats usually don’t see these in-season acquisitions at receiver make a big impact, and the ones who did work out in previous seasons were added much earlier than Week 15. Look around the league and you'll probably find the same story with every team, but you would think that if any quarterback would make these guys take off, it would be Tom Brady. 

Maybe the other variables end up weighing in Floyd’s favor: his experience playing under Charlie Weis early in his college career, the lack of depth at receiver for the Pats at the moment, the fact that he hasn’t had a great career and is playing for his next contract, the fact that, you know, Brady will be throwing him the ball.

Yet, Brady was throwing the ball to those other guys, too, and really Branch was the only one of them to give the Pats an immediate return on their investment. Floyd could catch on, but doing so would make him a rarity for a new Patriots receiver in these circumstances. 

Report: Brady expected to play Saturday night vs. Texans, but not Gronk

Report: Brady expected to play Saturday night vs. Texans, but not Gronk

Tom Brady and other Patriots starters are expected to make their preseason debuts Saturday in the second preseason game vs. the Texans in Houston, but Rob Gronkowski won't play, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald reports.

Gronkowski, recovering from back surgery performed late last season, hasn't played in a preseason game since 2012. 

MORE PATRIOTS

Brady and new acquisitions Brandin Cooks at wide receiver and Mike Gillislee at running back, along with wide receiver Julian Edelman and other starters, did not play in the Patriots' preseason opener against the Jaguars last week in Foxboro. The Patriots and Texans have been conducting joint practices at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia and Howe reports the plan all week has been to have the starters participate in the game Saturday night.

Of course, Bill Belichick reserves the right to change those plans. 

The Pats will return to the site of their last victory, NRG Stadium in Houston, where New England won Super Bowl 51 over the Falcons in February, to play the Texans. 

Freeney among available options if Patriots looking for pass-rush help

Freeney among available options if Patriots looking for pass-rush help

For years, the Patriots have schemed to keep Dwight Freeney away from Tom Brady. Might they be interested in making him Brady's teammate?

With the news coming down on Friday that rookie third-round pick Derek Rivers may have suffered a season-ending knee injury, it was just the latest hit to an edge group that was already hurting for numbers.

MORE PATRIOTS

The Patriots lost Rob Ninkovich to retirement early in training camp. They lost rookie defensive end Deatrich Wise for a to-be-determined period of time to a head injury suffered during last week's preseason game with the Jaguars. They lost Shea McClellin to an apparent injury earlier this month that has kept him out for almost two weeks.

So what's next? Here are some of the options . . .

IMMEDIATE HELP FROM OUTSIDE THE ORGANIZATION

Bill Belichick and his staff could look outside the organization for help right away via free agency or trade. Freeney, who recorded seven quarterback hurries and a sack in Super Bowl LI, is available as a free agent. Former Dolphins, Bills and Texans defensive end Mario Williams -- who Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio have happily referred to as "Big M" over the years -- is also without a team at the moment. Both of those players, 37 and 32 years old, respectively, could serve as stop-gap options. ESPN's Mike Reiss noted on Friday that perhaps Ninkovich could come out of retirement to help the club. 

Then there's the possibility of the trade. The Patriots are annually among the league's most aggressive teams in terms of looking for deals to help their roster, and this year figures to be no different. They have plenty in the way of draft capital if they decide to continue their recent trend of parting ways with picks for proven players in return. There are also valuable pieces on their roster who could end up elsewhere if the return is right. Of those, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and corner Malcolm Butler -- both in contract years -- would figure to be among their most valuable potential trade chips.

TAKE A WAIT-AND-SEE APPROACH

With only one cutdown deadline this year -- teams will have their rosters trimmed from 90 players to 53 following the last week of the preseason -- chaos figures to reign as teams scour the waiver wire for both active-roster and practice-squad help. Clubs could steadily make their releases in the days leading up to the deadline, but the expectation is that there will still be a tsunami of cuts that take place in a very short span. The Patriots are already preparing for the well over 1,000 players who will eventually become available, taking an all-hands-on-deck approach in the scouting and personnel departments. Perhaps as things get hectic right around the deadline, capable edge help will become available. If it does, don't be surprsied to see the Patriots pounce. 

GO WITH WHAT THEY HAVE

The Patriots could choose to simply roll with what's on the roster for 2017. Their front-seven is loaded with versatile defensive linemen and linebackers who can play a variety of positions. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Harvey Langi have seen time on the edge in recent practices. Trey Flowers should be a staple on the edge when he's not being used as an interior rusher. Lawrence Guy is more of an interior force and seems to be ideally used as a five-technique, but he played all along the defensive line in Baltimore and could have some positional versatility in New England. Kony Ealy has started to show some things as a pass-rusher of late. And undrafted rookie defensive lineman Adam Butler -- who saw time everywhere from nose tackle to stand-up edge-rusher during training camp -- is an intriguing young prospect. 

The Patriots situation on the edge is far from ideal at the moment, and they could try to remedy their issues quickly with some outside help. But if they choose to stand pat, they do have options.