New England Patriots: Wide receiver outlook frightful after Sanu release

FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 29: Mohamed Sanu #14 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
FOXBOROUGH, MA - DECEMBER 29: Mohamed Sanu #14 of the New England Patriots runs the ball during a game against the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images) /

Cutting Mohamed Sanu makes that deal last year for a second-round pick look worse and worse as the New England Patriots wide receiver situation flounders.

The release of Mohamed Sanu exacerbates the dreadful current situation at wide receiver for the New England Patriots.

Unless drastic measures are taken, this could very well be the Achilles heel dooming this Patriots team to second-class citizenship in the AFC East.

The situation can once again be traced back to poor personnel decisions in the offseason in the draft and free agency which now threaten the Patriots’ entire season. Cam Newton’s health is now the only thing keeping this Patriots team from landing in football Palookaville looking up at Buffalo and maybe Miami in the AFC East.

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Sanu caught a whopping 26 passes for the Patriots in his time here in New England. Not exactly monstrous production. Yet, that wasn’t even the player’s fault. A nonsensical decision to use Sanu as punt returner after he had a 10 catch game against the Baltimore Ravens the previous week, wrecked both his and the Patriots seasons (and maybe his future career, as well).

Responsibility for this nonsensical move and the dire situation at wide receiver in general lies right at the feet of the head of football operations and head coach, Bill Belichick.

Cutting Mohamed Sanu in and of itself was not necessarily a bad decision. It could reasonably have been argued in the offseason that carrying an over $6M cap hit on an over 30-year old receiver with limited speed following a serious ankle injury makes little sense. The problem is and was, that this move should then have been made early in the offseason if it was to be made at all. That timing would have freed the cap room and afforded New England ample opportunity to use the cap space to acquire another maybe better wide receiver to take Sanu’s place.

Instead, nothing was done until this week, and now is much too late.

The New England Patriots wide receiver situation is all on Bill Belichick

So the head honcho had every opportunity to address the wide receiver situation in the offseason and for whatever nonsensical reason he didn’t. It remains probably the weakest spot on the team, again. Last season was the same, likely contributing significantly to the surly attitude of the club’s all-time great quarterback, the now Buccaneer Tom Brady.

Only a spectacular season from the inimitable superstar Julian Edelman in 2019 with 100 catches, multiple injuries notwithstanding kept the New England Patriots away from total disaster even with the inimitable Brady at the Helm.

Brady was clearly disgusted with his options at the positions and reportedly refused to even throw at all to some of the stone-fingered receivers he had at his disposal.

Now, with the release of Mohamed Sanu, obtained at the huge expense of a second-round draft pick this year, things look even worse. No wideout caught more than a paltry 29 passes last season. It seemed logical that with double-digit picks in the draft that the New England Patriots would expend significantly to shore up this position there. Instead, they did zilch. Zero in the draft.

Evidently, none of the dozens of receivers in that class graded grade high enough to be worthy of selection under New England’s absolutely bizarre drafting schema. An article looked at this ludicrous philosophy in more detail.

In addition to implausibly and almost unbelievably zeroing out the wide receiver position in the draft, the New England Patriots also traded up and bundled multiple valuable picks to move up for two tight ends in the third round, Devin Asiasi, and Dalton Keene.

They arguably reached for both players, wasting traded picks which could have been used to draft wide receivers and backups on the offensive line. It is yet to be seen if the two tight ends will pan out, but unquestionably those picks won’t help the wide receiver room.

The New England Patriots are now relying on question marks at the receiver position

The New England Patriots personnel operation also struck out in free agency in the wide receiver area.

Again, they barely addressed the situation at all, not deigning to sign a bonafide sure-handed receiver who just might give them the 50 or so catches that a second wideout should deliver. Instead, they added no real quality to the position at all. They did sign Damiere Byrd who had 32 catches for San Diego last season.

Relatively speaking, that level would qualify as a near star for New England, their receivers are so poor. Anywhere else, not so much.

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Couple the non-attention in the draft and free agency with the lack of second-year improvement from last year’s two young wide receivers, N’Keal Harry, their first-round pick who caught a whopping 12 passes in an injury-riddled season, and Jakobi Meyers who caught a pedestrian 26, and things look bad indeed. It is not in any way unreasonable to feel that this position is probably the worst on the team. It may also not be a stretch to say the grouping may very well be the worst in the NFL.

This failure to improve its wide receivers may very well sink the 2020 New England Patriots. It surely won’t be a strong point.

Should the oft dinged-up Julian Edelman, unfortunately, incur a serious injury, it’s curtains for the Patriots’ passing offense.

The signing of Cam Newton brought great excitement to New England’s fans, as well it should have. He was a sterling addition. But trying to decipher why New England hasn’t taken virtually any steps to improve its wide receivers to provide Newton with the weapons he needs just “is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma”. It’s totally incomprehensible.

Even the dynamic Cam Newton can’t make an offense by himself, just as Tom Brady wasn’t able to with this batch last season.

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Barring a last-minute major trade, the wide receivers in New England’s passing game look frightful. Hopefully, this is an unwarranted dash of pessimism, but that’s not likely.

One thing is certain, however, anyone who expects little from the Patriots wide receiver corps outside of Edelman, is not likely to be disappointed. Unfortunately, they look just that ghastly.