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Patriots Gamble on Sanu Didn’t Pay Off, Finally Release Veteran WR

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
3 years ago at 9:22 pm ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

Patriots Gamble on Sanu Didn’t Pay Off, Finally Release Veteran WRDavid Kohl - USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady’s final season was one that will likely be remembered for the wrong reasons, and Wednesday’s release of Mohammed Sanu will certainly be one of them.

Sanu was the third of three big gambles during Brady’s final months in New England, with the club acquiring him in a trade with the Falcons for a 2nd round pick in a last ditch effort to solidify their wide receiver group after two other players didn’t pan out.

The Patriots went into training camp in 2019 with what looked to be a deep group of talent, with Jakobi Meyers emerging as an early surprise, while rookie N’Keal Harry appeared poised to contribute behind veteran Julian Edelman. Also in the mix were veterans Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas and Phillip Dorsett, with Gunner Olszewski showing some flashes.

As a result, New England’s receiving corps didn’t look that bad with two young fast receivers to compliment Edelman and the experienced Dorsett. New England even felt confident enough to move on from Demaryius Thomas, who flashed late in preseason and made a strong case to make the roster. Despite past problems, the club instead opted to stick with Gordon, who saw the league reinstate him late in the preseason following a previous suspension.

Still, there were questions as Brady didn’t appear to quite have the right chemistry with the young receivers. But those doubts melted away when right before the season started, they added embattled wideout Antonio Brown. Brown came in with plenty of baggage following a tumultuous preseason with the Raiders. Brown’s situation was so bad that the Raiders jettisoned him, giving Brady and the Patriots an opportunity they seemingly couldn’t pass up heading into Week 1.

With most teams apparently put off by a preseason that saw some insane antics from the former Steelers wideout, Bill Belichick was undaunted, and he brought Brown on board.

The gamble on Brown didn’t pay off in 2019.

The gamble seemed to paid off, with Brown catching 4 passes for 56-yards and a touchdown in a 43-0 blowout win by the club in Week 1. Brown had a short week of preparation and wasn’t even at his best that Sunday, which had people excited. Talk of an undefeated season started after Brady and the offense appeared to be unstoppable, and Brown hadn’t even reached his potential with his new quarterback.

However, then came legal allegations against Brown, which New England seemingly was unaware of and they opted to part ways with him the following week.

That didn’t stop the Patriots. They turned the page and still somehow managed to go on a run to start the season, but things didn’t look right. Watching the offense operate, things felt like they were a grind each week for Brady as they struggled to move the football. By the trade deadline, it was obvious that they were in need of help at receiver if they hoped to be successful. Gordon had suffered a knee injury in Week 6 that left him in tough shape and the club eventually parted ways with him at the end of October. That injury ended Gordon’s second tenure with a team that invested a lot of emotional energy into him, which was disappointing given the fact he seemingly had so much potential.

At the deadline, it was Sanu who the Patriots turned to and they spent a significant amount of currency to get him. They traded away a second-round pick to Atlanta in order to bring him on board and he didn’t quite seem to be on the same page with Brady from the time he got here. However, Sanu made up for that in the return game, spending time returning punts. But Sanu suffered a high ankle injury during a punt return in Week 11 and it seemed to hamper him for the rest of the season. He eventually had to undergo surgery after the season ended.

That was the dagger for an offense that sputtered at the end of the season. With Sanu slowed by his injury, they lost a crucial home game in the finale against Miami that cost them a shot at the second seed and a first-round bye, falling 27-24 at Gillette Stadium. Brady passed for just 221 yards and barely completed half of his passes after hitting on 16-of-29 of his throws with a group who seemingly struggled to get any separation. Sanu caught 3 passes for 35 yards but wasn’t the playmaker that many had hoped he would be.

In fact, he managed just one reception in a disappointing first-round playoff loss to the Titans the following week, catching just 1 pass on 5 targets for 11-yards.

After Brady departed this offseason, Sanu had been seen working with new QB Cam Newton heading into training camp, but when the team eventually hit the field, reports indicated that he looked slow and it’s obvious that the coaching staff must have felt the same way following Wednesday’s release.

Needless to say, between Gordon, Brown and Sanu, the Patriots didn’t manage to cash in on any of the gambles they attempted in 2019. It’s a new year and a new era for this football team, so let’s just hope 2020 works out a little better.

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Antonio Brown josh gordon Mohammed Sanu Tom Brady

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