On Friday wide receiver Greg Salas was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles. This move along with a recent injury to Julian Edelman possibly leaves the New England Patriots with only three receivers. Adding a receiver for their upcoming game is a must and it very well could be a familiar face.
Prior to Thursday night’s tilt with the New York Jets, the Patriots made the decision to waive Salas and activate rookie tackle Markus Zusevics. Salas has been the Patriots fourth receiver behind Edelman, Brandon Lloyd, and Wes Welker. But after a possible unfortunate personnel loss in Thursday’s game, the Patriots may have been ready to bring him back.
These days head injuries are a top priority in the NFL. For a player to return following a head injury, he must pass multiple tests before he’s allowed back on the practice field or even in film sessions. On Thursday night Edelman suffered an unspecified head injury. While it’s still unclear how serious the injury is, it very well could be a concussion.
If Edelman does have a concussion, there’s a good chance he could be out at least next week and possibly longer. If so, the Patriots have a problem. With Salas no longer an option, the Patriots have four receivers on their active roster and only three if Edelman is unable to play. Lloyd and Welker have been the team’s top two receivers most of the year but the other receiver, Matthew Slater, has seen minimal playing time.
In addition to a lack of receivers, the Patriots are still without star tight end Rob Gronkowski who continues to recover from an arm injury that required surgery earlier this week. With Gronkowski the Patriots could deal with a lack of wide receivers as the injured tight end creates matchup problems in the passing game. But with both Edelman and Gronkowski out, the Patriots may be looking for a replacement.
A quick look at current free agents will show that three of the top candidates to be signed are former Patriots. Chad Johnson, formerly Ochocinco, was in training camp with the Miami Dolphins after being released by the Patriots. However, he was arrested for a domestic dispute and was subsequently released. Donte’ Stallworth spent the 2007 season in New England and went through training camp this season with the Patriots. But just before the season started he was cut along with another former Patriot Jabar Gaffney. Both Johnson and Stallworth are currently looking for teams and could be a possibility.
The most probable candidate is Deion Branch. Branch was waived just a week ago to make room for the newly acquired defensive back Aqib Talib. His place in the lineup was taken by Salas who was later signed from the practice squad. Branch was said to have a hamstring injury but it still unknown if it was serious. Branch could be set for a return at least until Edelman is healthy enough to play.
When the Patriots waived Salas they didn’t know that they were in danger of losing two receivers. But Edelman was lost to a head injury in Thursday night’s game and Salas was signed by the Eagles on Friday. With a lack of personnel the Patriots are now in a position where they need another wide receiver which could mean a return to New England for one of three players.