Namely, it seems they were the reason the Giants got cold feet. When New England are after one of your players, the chances are he’s a very good player, but what type of organisation needs reminding that OBJ is a great player? So, would he still be available this offseason, and would the Patriots still be a viable answer?
The answer is yes.
Firstly, the Patriots need wide receivers and I covered this in an earlier article, but just to reiterate; the Patriots really need wide receivers.
Following ring number six, New England are set to lose Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson to free agency, although I expect them to re-sign Patterson due to his effectiveness on special teams. On top of that, I expect Rob Gronkowski to retire. If they lose all four of those players, that leaves them with Julian Edelman, and whilst Edelman is a great receiver, he’s not going to be able to do everything on his own.
If there’s one weakness in the New England game, it is drafting wide receivers. In sixteen drafts under Bill Belichick, the Patriots have selected thirteen receivers, and, let’s be honest, three of them have been a success: Deion Branch, Super Bowl MVP; David Givens, 149 catches and two-time Super Bowl winner; Julian Edelman, Super Bowl MVP and the best slot receiver in the league. Matthew Slater was drafted as a receiver but has become Special Teams captain and a five-time Pro Bowler so he deserves a mention, but he didn’t pan out as a receiver.
The rest consists of busts. The Patriots traded up for Chad Jackson in 2006, for a paltry return of 13 catches for 152 yards and 4 touchdowns over two years. Aaron Dobson started out with a fantastic rookie season, catching 37 passes for 519 yards and four touchdowns, but never reappeared after a stress fracture in his foot. Taylor Price, the 90th pick in 2010, caught three passes for 41 yards. Josh Boyce, the 102nd pick in 2013, had a great college career, but ended with only 121 receiving yards across 10 games.
In the 2018 draft the Patriots took Braxton Berrios in the sixth round and he essentially went straight to injured reserve after picking up a season ending injury. The Patriots are keen on him, but he’s no elite receiver just yet.
Beckham offers guaranteed quality. At 26 years of age he has years of potential productivity ahead of him, and his contract, initially, isn’t too bad a hit. In the first year costing just $4.04m, but jumping up to $17.4m and $18.9m in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Would the Patriots pay that to offer Tom Brady an elite weapon for a few years? Yes, I think they would.
Speaking of Brady, it appears the two have struck up an unlikely friendship, with Beckham commenting “love u brother” on a Brady Instagram post. OBJ has also repeatedly compared his emotions to those of Brady, and the two traded jerseys after a game two years back, hinting at a deeper relationship or at the very least a high level of mutual respect.
We also have to consider that Brady may have requested that the Patriots go and get him an elite target after being frustrated with not being given appropriate weapons downfield for much of his career. There’s no doubt that Brady is the most competitive person in football, maybe even the entire world of sports, and with his age advancing it wouldn’t be the wildest to consider him wanting to load up and win as much as he can before bowing out. Beckham, as we’ve seen, pretty competitive, and he does not take losing well.
Which team offers him the best chance of winning? The Patriots.
Would he rein his emotions in for a chance at a ring? Absolutely.
The Patriots have a pretty significant number of picks this year, and that will certainly interest the Giants as they prepare to rebuild an offence around the elite talents of Saquon Barkley.
Either way, I expect OBJ to be out of New York come July, and I think the Patriots will be at the top of the list to get him.
If they don’t, they’ll probably find a local school gardener who will go for 1,300 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2019.
After all, it’s the Patriots way, right?