The New England Patriots had multiple areas they needed to address this offseason. The Patriots helped the secondary by acquiring Darrelle Revis and possibly by signing Brandon Browner. They still need to work on their front seven. Another area the Patriots needed to address during the offseason was their receiving corps. New England quasi did that by re-signing Julian Edelman and signing free agent Brandon LaFell, but are those receivers really the answer to getting the Patriots back to the Super Bowl and hoisting the Lombardi Trophy?
The Patriots still need a true No. 1 receiver who can stretch the field. There were rumors earlier in the offseason that the Patriots may try to trade for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (and that they were interested last offseason). That was always seriously doubtful given Fitzgerald’s contract even though he is one of the best receivers in the NFL and a fantastic locker room guy. There were rumors more recently that the Patriots would try to trade for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson, but that would be a mistake. So what should the Patriots do?
They should trade for Houston Texans wide receiver Andre Johnson.
The Patriots have been a model of success under the ownership of Robert Kraft, with Bill Belichick as the head coach and Tom Brady at QB. That being said, the last time the Patriots won the Super Bowl was 2004. Yes, New England has been to two other Super Bowls since then, but they lost to the New York Giants in heartbreaking fashion each time. Brady’s current contract is up after the 2017 season. Who knows if he will continue to play after this contract or if he’ll retire, but either way the window is definitely closing on the Brady era. The Patriots need to get Brady a marquee receiver for the final years of his career, and Johnson just makes far too much sense for the Patriots to not make it happen.
Even with Matt Schaub (not a bad QB but had a horrible 2013) and Case Keenum (not NFL starting caliber) slinging passes to him, Johnson still had 109 catches for 1,407 yards and five touchdowns in 2013. With Schaub throwing pick-sixes last season on the regular before being benched with Keenum taking over under center, it is incredibly impressive that Johnson still put up those numbers. Now imagine what Johnson could do if Brady was the one throwing to him. Patriots fans should be salivating at the idea.
The Texans went from Super Bowl contender to having the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft after going 2-14 in 2013. This offseason the Texans traded Schaub, who was their starting QB, to the Oakland Raiders after his horrible 2013 season. Is there a QB Houston feels is their QB of the future in this year’s draft? Maybe Blake Bortles whose draft stock seems to keep rising? Does Houston stick with Keenum who is still on their roster? I’ve written before that the Patriots should trade Ryan Mallet. Belichick should get on the horn and talk to Texans head coach Bill O’Brien, who is a New England guy, and hammer out a trade where Johnson comes to New England and the Patriots send Mallet and a draft pick to Houston.
It seems everyone could win in that deal. The Texans hopefully solve their starting QB question, Mallet gets a shot as a starting QB (which he deserves), Brady gets to throw to one of the best receivers in the NFL and Johnson gets to play for a team that can and probably will contend for a Super Bowl.
Johnson is set to make a pretty penny with his current contract, and over the next three years his cap hit averages $15.5 million per year with an average annual base salary of $10.5 million.
If the Patriots and Johnson wanted to make this happen (and both parties should want to), there could be some creative financial maneuvering that could give the Patriots some cap relief in the short-term.
Here’s hoping the Patriots make this happen.