Brady has nothing but options at wide receiver

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Brady has nothing but options at wide receiver

By Rich Levine
Standing Room Only

Theres no No. 1 receiver.

But thats how Brady likes it, right? Isnt he at his best when, as they say (and by they I mean everyone), his favorite receiver is the open receiver?

Personally, I thought he was pretty great the year he had a bonafide No. 1, set an NFL record for touchdowns, won 18 straight games and came within three or four fluke plays of winning the Super Bowl, BUT yeah, hes also pretty damn good when a No. 1 receiver isnt in the cards and for the second straight season, its not.

Welkers still the security blanket, and no one would be surprised if he grabs another 100 balls. The closer the Pats get to the goal line, the role of binky will shift to Rob Gronkowski whos in line for another double digit touchdown season (and thanks to the arrival of his brother, another 15 or so locker room rat tails). At this point, Aaron Hernandez is essentially a receiver a transition thats only enhanced by his adoption of Randy Moss old No. 81. (Oh man, what are they going to do when Randy comes back!?) Deion Branch will still be Deion Branch, for better (sure hands, clutch plays) or worse (injuries!). Julian Edelman will get one more chance to prove hes the next coming of Wes Welker before we resign to the fact that hes actually the next Tim Dwight (comparison only works with white guys, right?).

Can Taylor Price step in andor emerge as a deep threat? Is special teams captain Matt Slater only worthy of targets in the preseason? And what about Tiquan Underwoods Kid n' Play high top?! (OK, I know he was cut, but just wanted to talk about the hair one more time.) Those are all questions were asking right now, but since the start of this abbreviated training camp, the biggest questionstory at receiver has been, and will continue to be Chad Ochocinco.

Anyone who tries to tell you they know whats about to happen with Ocho is lying. No ones in his head. (Man, I just want five minutes in there.) And no ones sure of exactly how much he has left in the tank. Some say that hes been slow to pick up the offense, but with the amount of time Ocho spends studying, I have a hard time believing that will continue to be a problem and it still doesnt explain the drops.
At the end of the day (OK, preseason) the one thing we know, is that theres no No. 1.

With some QBs that might be a problem, but with Brady its an advantage.

Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

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Collins gets his pay day as Patriots prepare for Super Bowl

NFL Siberia can’t be all that bad. The Cleveland Browns have signed Jamie Collins to an extension that keeps him off the free agent market.

The former Patriot, stunningly shipped out of town on Halloween, has agreed to a reported four-year, $50 million deal with $26M in guaranteed money.

As eyebrow-raising as the move was at the time, this is an all’s well that ends well story.

Collins, a reluctant Patriot once it came clear the team wouldn’t to aim a confetti cannon of money at him, gets the desired big-dough deal. He didn’t drape himself in glory with his level of play this year in New England, but his agitation over making $900K this year was understandable.

The Patriots -- who made the deal not knowing exactly how it would work out with Collins’ fleet of replacements (primarily rookie Elandon Roberts and, October acquisition Kyle Van Noy) -- have played better defense since Collins has been gone and are headed to the Super Bowl.

Would they have been better if Collins stayed? The answer to that is a question: Which version of Collins, the irked one or the motivated one?

Collins did nothing to veil his desire for a huge contract, saying at the end of the season he’d stay with the hapless Browns if the money was right. Now that he’s decided the money was right, what kind of Collins will the Browns get? With $26M guaranteed, the Browns have tethered themselves to the 27-year-old Collins for a chunk of his prime. The shorter term is ideal for Collins because -- if he performs to his capability -- he’ll be able to see another lucrative deal before he’s too aged.

The deal will certainly be noticed by Collins’ former teammates, primarily Donta Hightower who will be a free agent at the end of the season.

The Patriots could franchise Hightower (last year’s tag number was more than $14M) but that’s not going to be ideal for either side. Hightower will want to get the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal and the Patriots may be reluctant to pay that much to a player that’s got an injury history and plays one of the game’s most violent positions.

A lot’s going to happen between now and the time the Patriots have to make their decision. A good deal of it will happen in the next 12 days. If Hightower stealthily saves the Super Bowl as he did in 2014 with his first-down tackle on Marshawn Lynch … how do you put a price on that?