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Thursday Patriots Notebook 7/20: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
2 months ago at 10:14 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Thursday Patriots Notebook 7/20: News and NotesDanielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK

Some news and notes for this morning:

Patriots Lose Out on Mims

The Patriots continued exploring their options at the wide receiver position this week, and it sounds like they were potentially in the mix before losing out again on another notable name.

According to SNYtv NFL reporter Connor Hughes, disgruntled Jets receiver Denzel Mims was traded to the Detroit Lions on Wednesday, shipping him out of the AFC East just ahead of training camp. sports reporter Matt Lombardo reported that the Patriots ended up being among teams who looked into the former 2020 second-round pick before the Jets sent him to the Lions, with the Steelers apparently being the other.

Obviously, it’s rare that a division rival would trade a talented player to a division opponent ahead of the upcoming season, so it wasn’t necessarily a surprise that the two sides didn’t consummate a deal.  The Miami Dolphins are probably one of the few who fall into that category after the Dolphins sent former wideout Wes Welker to New England back on March 5, 2007.

That move was even a little more puzzling as Welker was Miami’s leading receiver the season before in 2006, having hauled in 67 receptions for 687-yards along with a touchdown.

Mims certainly doesn’t fall into that category.  He finished 2022 with just 11 receptions for 186 yards and zero touchdowns, with things boiling over at one point after he expressed frustration with the offense and then-quarterback Zach Wilson.

The Jets appeared ready to release him had they not found a suitor, but for now, it appears that Mims is headed to the NFC and the Lions.  We’ll see if he’s any less frustrated out there, although, if nothing else, Jared Goff is certainly a big step up from who he played with at quarterback last season.

Goff is coming off a year where he finished strong, with reports saying that offensive coordinator Ben Johnson turned down multiple head coaching opportunities just so he could work with Goff and “run it back” another season.

Mims addition, should the two end up being a better fit, could potentially make the Lions an interesting team to watch in 2023.

Running Backs Fournette, Henderson Visit

According to several reports, the Patriots continued doing some additional due diligence at the running back position, hosting both free agent running backs Leonard Fournette and Darrell Henderson for visits on Wednesday.

Fournette’s visit to Foxboro is certainly intriguing, as he’s been a player who Bill Belichick has spoken highly of in the past and he could potentially be an interesting fit.

The former Buccaneers running back made an impact after joining the team following his departure from Jacksonville, with the veteran playing a key role during the club’s 2020 Championship run.

He’s since seen a drop off in performance, but his addition here would see him likely handle a significantly smaller workload behind Rhamondre Stevenson.  In that role, it may allow the Patriots to get whatever Fournette may have left, while ensuring that Stevenson’s snaps get reduced to allow him to be less worn down over the course of what is now a 17-game regular season.

Fournette finished the 2022 season carrying 189 times for 668 yards and 3 touchdowns, while averaging 3.5 yards per carry.  The latter number is his lowest since his 2018 season in Jacksonville, where he averaged 3.3.  He had previously averaged 4.4 (2019), 3.8 (2020), and 4.5 (2021) over the previous three seasons.

As for Henderson, he’s coming off a season in Los Angeles where he appeared in just 10 games for the Rams, but was released by the club last November and never played another snap after the Jaguars claimed him off waivers.

Jacksonville waived him again in early December, with head coach Doug Pederson mentioning on multiple occasions that Henderson needed more time to learn the offense, which seemingly may have been an issue.

Knowing what we know here in New England, if that’s the case, that may impair him from potentially landing with the Patriots, depending on how the workout went.

Bedard: Belichick Always Favors Defense

Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard appeared on NBC Sports Boston last night, talking about the Patriots obviously missing out on DeAndre Hopkins after the veteran picked Tennessee over New England.

Bedard went back and looked at the Patriots history in terms of how aggressive they’ve been at the beginning of free agency when it’s come to impact players, and he feels that Belichick seems to have no issue spending top dollar on blue-chip players on defense, but won’t do it on offense.

“I mean, just look at his history,” said Bedard.  “What offensive talent have they brought in from the outside that is number one, first day, morning of free agency type stuff?  It’s never happened.  Ever.  At any position.”

“What about on defense? Adalius Thomas, first moments of free agency.  Darrell Revis, which is basically the DeAndre Hopkins of defense, he got his market value.  He got his one-year contract with a dummy year to make it work.  Stephon Gilmore, first minutes of … he needs a cornerback?  Malcolm Butler wouldn’t take the deal?  Opening minutes of free agency.”

“Matthew Judon, none of his edge players worked out, Chase Winovich, whoever?  Matthew Judon, first moments of free agency.  I mean, what else do I need to say?  The examples are right there.  He never spends on offense, and he always gives the defense what they need.”

It is an interesting point, although up until recently the biggest issue previously seemed to be the complexities in their offense and the fact Tom Brady was clearly a demanding player on that side of the ball.  Those two factors made it pretty tough to find the right fits for the receiver position.

Last season saw them reportedly simplify things a bit to make it easier on both younger players and veterans, although whether or not that has continued hasn’t really been talked about since Bill O’Brien has taken over the reins.

Obviously, we know what their spending looked like ahead of 2021 when they went after Nelson Agholor, Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, and Kendrick Bourne, but none of them fall into the category of an All-Pro type player that Bedard is seemingly alluding to.

It is a valid point.  But given that Belichick was in on Hopkins and with all the cap space they’re set to have next offseason, how things unfold this year could certainly impact whether or not we begin to potentially see a shift there next offseason.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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  • 2 responses to “Thursday Patriots Notebook 7/20: News and Notes”

    1. Michael P. McGrath says:

      How did way overspending on mediocre free agents work in 2021. All offensive players.

      • Ian Logue says:

        Definitely an interesting point he made. Amazing how both Agholor and Smith were big disappointments, which certainly contributed to their issues both that season and this past one. It’s not out of the realm of possibility someone might come free ahead of the season, but it’s too bad they don’t yet have an elite guy to draw coverage and make life difficult on opponents.

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