By: Derek Havens
Brandon LaFell gives the Patriots more size at wide receiver. (USA TODAY Images)
The New England Patriots signed free agent wide receiver, Brandon LaFell, to a three-year deal Saturday night.
After re-signing wide receiver, Julian Edelman, to a three-year deal earlier in the day, the Patriots added another guy to the offense. LaFell, who has spent his four NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers, brings some size to the receiving corps — 6’2, 210 pounds.
In 2013, LaFell caught 49 passes for 627 yards and five touchdowns for Carolina. Looking over the team’s depth chart, height was something the Patriots certainly needed at the position. Second-year receiver Aaron Dobson, listed at 6’3, is the only real lock to make the roster taller than six feet.
What I love most about LaFell’s game is his ability to play all over the field. He’s shown the ability to play the on the left and right side of the field, but also has been productive from the slot.
In fact, according to Pro Football Focus, the 27-year-old receiver ran 335 of his 532 routes in the slot in 2014. Based on the depth chart, with Edelman, Danny Amendola and Josh Boyce in the mix, it’s safe to assume he’ll be outside more often than not in New England.
LaFell brings more of a play-making threat to the outside, along with a solid red zone target to the Patriots, given his size. He has displayed the ability to make plays after the catch as well. Overall, it’s another weapon for Tom Brady.
My questions with LaFell start with his consistency. He can disappear at times during games and also has some drops from time-to-time. Nevertheless, he appears to be a quality asset for the Patriots offense.
First and foremost, however, it starts with competition in training camp. LaFell will join Edelman, Amendola, Dobson, Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins to fight for a spot of the 53-man roster. When observing camp last season, the lack of competition at receiver was clear, along with the team trying to get younger at the position.
With the upcoming NFL Draft very deep at receiver, along with some veterans available at the position on the open market, it’s possible the team adds another guy to the mix for even more competition and depth.
Do you have a Twitter account? Be sure to follow me: @PatriotsHaven!