Free Agent Primer: Wide Receivers

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Free Agent Primer: Wide Receivers

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com

This is the second in a series of looks at the Patriots' position-by-position needs after the draft, and who's available to fill them via free agency . . . whenever free agency might come. Today's position: Wide receiver. Who's here?
Wes Welker, DeionBranch, Brandon Tate, Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater, Darnell Jenkins, Buddy Farnham. Who's out there?
Legedu Nanee (Chargers), Steve Breaston (Cardinals), Malcom Floyd (Chargers), Lance Moore (Saints), Steve Smith (Giants), Brad Smith (Jets), Santonio Holmes (Jets), Dane Sanzenbacher (Ohio State), What's the need?
Let's call it a 7.5
Wes Welker is entering the final year of his contract and he just turned 30. He's caught an amazing total of 432 balls in four seasons with the Patriots and averages seven catches and 70 yards a game. Despite all that, I have the feeling he's in for a contractual mud-wrestle with the Patriots. His productivity is going to decline, he is not the most surehanded receiver (he led the league with 13 dropped passes in 2010), his skill set is - while wondrous - not entirely unique (in three games replacing Welker, Julian Edelman has 24 catches for 245 yards and two touchdowns). Time to think about life post-Welker. Meanwhile, Branch turns 32 in July. Tate doesn't have the route-running skills of Branch or Welker. Taylor Price remains a developmental prospect. Slater is a special teams guy. Farnham is roster fodder. Darnell Jenkins (write it down) is going to be a big contributor. The Patriots are going to need a slot guy (Edelman can be that) and a route-runner that can be physical, precise and Givens-esque. I'm not sure Price can be that. Who do they chase?
The best wide receiver available is Santonio Holmes. His hands, speed, route-running and big-game experience make him attractice. He's also leaning toward rejoining the Jets when the labor mess gets solved so, unless the Patriots want to pay through the nose for a guy who has had some off-field issues, he'd be off the board. Steve Smith of the Giants would be the best fit but he said he's been promised by New York that he'll be given a new deal even if he falls into the RFA net and sounds inclined to stay. Lance Moore, Brad Smith and Sanzenbacher would be good targets. Moore because he can play the slot but also be a downfield threat (his speed is greater than Welker's). Smith would give them versatility and rob the Jets of a weapon. Sanzenbacher is an ideal Patriots-style pickup. Who do we look at next?
Offensive linemenTom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Patriots won’t have to deal with Bills WR Sammy Watkins on Sunday.

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Patriots won’t have to deal with Bills WR Sammy Watkins on Sunday.

FOXBORO - Scratch the estimable Sammy Watkins from the Bills roster for Sunday. 

Buffalo shared via Twitter that their long, tall wideout is out for Sunday with a foot injury. Also down are wideout Greg Salas and left tackle Cyrus Kouandijo.

The Bills' starting left tackle Cordy Glenn has been dealing with an ankle injury that caused him to miss last week's game. 

Robert Woods will be the Bills best outside threat with Watkins taking Sunday off. The Bills' talented corner Ronald Darby is also trying to get back this week from a hamstring injury that caused him to miss last week's game with Arizona. 

 

 

No intel gathering on Garoppolo at Patriots practice

No intel gathering on Garoppolo at Patriots practice

FOXBORO - There were no tells about the Patriots quarterback situation for Sunday during the portion of Friday practice the media was allowed to watch. 

Jimmy Garoppolo, who on Wednesday was seen throwing short and medium-range passes without a lot of zip, hasn't thrown a ball with media in attendance since. Friday morning, after stretching and jogging, Garoppolo began a session feigning taking a snap from a center and going into a drop. But he did so without a football in his hands. 

Rookie Jacoby Brissett did flip a few passes during the jogging and stretching portion and, while he was wearing gloves, he is showing no signs of favoring his right thumb. 

So the question isn't whether the Patriots have any quarterbacks for Sunday against the Bills, it's whether or not they'll have Garoppolo. Certainly, it's a question that's been on the mind of Bills head coach Rex Ryan who keeps speaking the truth in jest by referencing the uncertainty around the Patriots situation. 

After being on the field in limited capacity all week, it's a certainty that Garoppolo dresses for the Bills game. Whether he plays and how effective he might be remains anything but certain.