The New England Patriots, the NFL’s best team, took a hit this weekend when spark plug receiver Julian Edelman suffered a torn ACL in his knee. He will miss the entire 2017 season.
Edelman is a perfect piece to Josh McDaniels’ varied offense. He is Tom Brady’s kindred spirit and surely the Patriots will miss the spunky, hard-nosed Edelman.
But the reality is the defending Super Bowl champions will survive this loss. This offense is stacked. Remember, the Patriots lost Rob Gronkowski – perhaps the best tight end ever to play in the NFL – last November and they went on to win the Super Bowl. They will be fine. Here is a look at Brady’s options now that Edelman is out of the picture for this season:
Rob Gronkowski: As stated previously, the Patriots were able to survive without Gronkowski last year. While they’ve done it before, the Patriots would much prefer to win with Gronkowski. He is a sublime talent. Hall of Fame tight end Shannon Sharpe is on the record saying Gronkowski is the best tight end ever to play. Gronkowski has often been injured, though. He has missed 24 games since 2012. Gronkowski, 28, most stay healthy for the Patriots. If so, he and Brady will continue to do work. If not, the combined loss of him and Edelman will be felt.
Brandin Cooks: The Patriots improved the most of any team in the NFL this offseason and the acquisition of Cooks is a big reason why. He is a field stretcher and he adds a big dynamic to this offense. With Gronkowski and Cooks leading the way, the Patriots will be fine.
Malcolm Mitchell: The second-year player will be leaned on with Edelman out. He flashed a lot of potential last season and has a chance to make a lot of noise in this offense. Brady already trusts him.
Dwayne Allen: The Patriots’ offense is at its most dangerous with two effective tight ends. The two-tight end offense caters to what McDaniels and Brady do. Allen, formerly of Indianapolis, takes over for Martellus Bennett, who played a big role for the Patriots last year before hitting free agency and joining Green Bay. Allen is not as talented as Bennett. But, as we know, in this offense, roles outweigh talent. Allen will make his presence felt.
Chris Hogan: Hogan is a typical New England player – a castoff from other teams who found a home. He has a knack for getting open and his numbers could soar with Edelman out of the equation.
Dion Lewis: Here’s the first running back on this list. The Patriots’ running back group is an ensemble talent so he gets the slight nod.
James White: He is a threat as a receiver out of the backfield. White had 60 catches last season. He was big in the postseason with four touchdowns, including three in the Super Bowl. Yes, this offense is so deep, a player who had three scores in the Super Bowl is the seventh best option on a post-Edelman group.
Rex Burkhead: He is a new weapon. He is a scheme guy and he looks like a nice fit. There will likely be some games where Burkhead had big days and others who when he hardly plays. But he must be accounted for.
Mike Gillislee: See Rex Burkhead.
Danny Amendola: He is aging and he has been injury prone. But he can play the Edelman role. If Amendola has anything in the tank, the Patriots will get it out of him. If not, undrafted free agent Austin Carr, who has flashed this summer, could work his way onto this list.
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