The Patriots will enter the beginning of the 2017 league season with several important decisions to make in regards to free agency. While the team has the third most salary cap room in the NFL this season, they have a slew of free agents including several who are either starters or important role players.
We’ll be doing profiles on each of the free agents in the upcoming days and give you our take on whether they return or move on. One of the players facing free agency is wide receiver, Michael Floyd.
The Arizona Cardinals released Floyd after a DUI incident that was caught on tape. Floyd was asleep at the wheel of his vehicle while stopped at a red light with the car in gear and his foot on the brake. It could have possibly ended much, much worse.
Every team passed on him except New England, who signed him for the stretch run. Floyd didn’t have much time to learn the Patriots playbook or the complicated route tree of the receivers. But he recognized the opportunity for what it was, a chance to be insurance for a Super Bowl run and possibly play into a future contract with the team.
He appeared in the Patriots final two regular season games and the Divisional Round against the Houston Texans. He was inactive, a healthy scratch for both the AFC Championship and the Super Bowl. The regular season finale against Miami however, showed a glimpse of what he can do.
He caught three passes for 36 yards including a 14-yard touchdown where he fought his way into the end zone. But his best moment arguably came as a blocker. Julian Edelman caught a pass on a slant from Tom Brady. As Edelman cut up the middle of the field, the deep safety was zeroing in Edelman to stop him in his tracks.
Floyd came across and laid a thunderous but legal block, burying the safety and allowing Edelman to race for a long 77-yard touchdown. The downfield blocking is something the Patriots’ wide receivers pride themselves on and there was no better way for Floyd to endear himself to his new teammates.
Why Floyd Will Return: The Patriots basically picked up a bargain with Floyd, who was a former first round pick and at age 27 is at the peak of his career right now. He has the size at 6’2, 220 that the other Patriots receivers don’t have and is athletic to boot.
The play where he dragged four to five Miami defenders into the end zone showcased his physicality as well as the block that sprung Edelman for his touchdown. He was in the midst of his worst season as a pro and a fresh start in New England may have been just what the doctor ordered.
He has the speed to take the top off the defense and can be a deep ball threat as well as work the middle areas of the field. And since his arrest and subsequent jail time for extreme DUI (24-day sentence with 96 more under house arrest), many teams may balk at signing him since additional NFL punishment is bound to be coming soon.
The Patriots could conceivably sign him to a short one-to-two year “prove it” type of deal that would allow him to rebuild his reputation. And for the team? Adding a first round talent to an already stocked array of weapons for Tom Brady makes this offense even more dangerous. With a full off-season to learn the playbook, he should hit the ground running and would be a very dangerous addition to the passing game.
Why Floyd Won’t Return: There is the very real possibility that the Patriots viewed Floyd as insurance on and have no desire to keep him past the Super Bowl. We don’t know for sure and probably won’t until free agency begins.
Floyd is coming with baggage; his DUI wasn’t his first issue with the law. He had multiple brushes with law enforcement while with Notre Dame. He’s facing league sanctioned suspension for his arrest and conviction and let’s be truthful here. As a member of the Patriots, you can expect a longer suspension than if he was elsewhere.
Floyd’s signing would also create a logjam at the WR position. Who would go in lieu of him? Edelman isn’t going anywhere in 2017, and the Patriots just signed Chris Hogan in 2016 and he had a very successful season. Rookie Malcolm Mitchell really came on at the end of the season and they just invested a draft pick in him.
That would leave Danny Amendola who may not have the numbers, but his production certainly is timely. Are the Patriots willing to let Amendola go? That’s the question that may be answered shortly.
Bottom Line: The Patriots have an interesting decision to make on Floyd. He has unmistakable talent, was a first-round draft pick and has the size and athleticism that any team would covet in a wide receiver. He’s had good production in Arizona prior to the 2016 season. With a fresh start, playing alongside a plethora of weapons in the passing game with Tom Brady at QB, there’s no reason to doubt, he couldn’t have success here. Plus, Floyd has made overtures that he wants to stay.
However, he will miss much of the spring workouts due to his house arrest. But should be more than ready for training camp. The next two questions are, how long will the league suspend him for and how much will it cost to keep him?
The cost is not only in dollars but in the development for someone like Mitchell who shows so much promise. Hogan would no doubt have to move more to the slot as he’d have to take some of Amendola’s slack. It isn’t an easy call.
The feeling here is that there is an even 50/50 chance Floyd would return on a team-friendly deal in 2017.
Posted Under: 2017 Free Agency
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season 2017 free agency 2017 Patriots free agents Bill Belichick Danny Amendola Julian Edelman Malcolm Mitchell Michael Floyd New England Patriots Patriots Patriots wide receivers Tom Brady