The New England Patriots have been looking for a dynamic kick returner for a long time now. Last season, Jeff Demps didn’t work out and Julian Edelman was injured way too often to contribute in the kick-return game.
For 2013, the Patriots did bring in Leon Washington to help improve in this area. However, it is always good to add competition to these spots in the event that Washington falters or gets hurt.
That brings me to Josh Cribbs. He is a fast receiver with great kick-return ability who will not demand top dollar if signed by a team. The only problem that the Patriots would have is that his knee is not 100 percent healed yet from offseason surgery. If the team took a chance on him, it may have to be in a similar situation to what occurred with Jake Ballard. They may have to stash him on the PUP list and wait until he is ready to play.
This would be fairly simple to do as well. The team could place him on the PUP list or IR/Designated To Return List. Simply put, he could be activated around the midseason point instead of missing the whole season. If the team is not confident in him playing in 2013, they could keep him on the regular IR and wait until next year to activate him if they so choose.
As for why the Patriots may be interested, you only have to go as far back as March to figure out that they are. When free agency began, the Patriots were thought to be the favorites to land Cribbs. The team had significant interest in him and he was forced to choose between New England or the Arizona Cardinals. He chose Arizona, but failed his physical which led to the deal falling apart.
A few months after the deal was stalled, he ended up going to the Oakland Raiders. Now that he is a free agent, the Patriots could swoop in and sign the player that they highly coveted in free agency. It would be a good deal as he would be signed to a cheap, non-guaranteed salary. This is the kind of deal the Patriots love to make. I hope it does not sound like I am underselling Cribbs’ ability, though, because that is the furthest thing from the truth.
Besides being a dynamic return man, he can produce in the receiving game as well. With a mediocre Cleveland Browns team, he has caught 107 passes for 1,161 yards and seven TDs in his career. This may not sound like much, but he had very few opportunities in Cleveland to shine in the passing game. In the right system, and with the right quarterback under center, he could emerge as an all-purpose star that is feared around the NFL.
Who better to make use of the talent he possesses than Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, arguably the best quarterback and coach of all-time. With Brady throwing him the ball, he could turn into an elite pass catcher instead of a strictly special teams player who rarely plays on offense. This would be a low-risk, high-reward move for the Patriots and they owe it to themselves to do their due diligence with Cribbs.
Do you think the Patriots should sign Cribbs? Feel free to comment on the subject in the “comments” section below.