Will the New England Patriots reach out now to Antonio Brown?
By Matt Conner
Given the way their anemic offense looked on Sunday against the Chiefs, are the Patriots now ready to reach out to Antonio Brown?
The New England Patriots have some serious reflecting to do—that is, while they still have time to do something.
With the 2019 regular season drawing to a close, the Patriots have done well to sweep through the (generous) schedule afforded to them by the National Football League. They currently have a first-round bye and are well-situated to play for the chance to go to yet another Super Bowl and further extend the legacies of quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick—as if it was needed.
As long as both men are in the positions they are, they will be a dangerous team in the postseason against any opponent, even if they’ve dropped three of their last five games—all against playoff-caliber teams from the AFC in the Baltimore Ravens, Houston Texans and Kansas City Chiefs.
On the one hand, it feels silly to worry about any 10-3 team. On the other, if you’ve watched these Patriots in recent weeks, you know that worrying is actually a proper response to this offense.
On Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs became the latest team to beat up on New England in a 23-16 win in Week 14. The game wasn’t nearly as close as the final score lets on. In fact, if it wasn’t for Andy Reid‘s penchant for getting conservative at several key moments, special teams miscues, and a Travis Kelce fumble, this game would have gotten out of hand well before the fourth quarter was even in view.
Against the Chiefs defense, a reconstruction effort which deserves much more attention than it’s received, Tom Brady had a difficult time doing much of anything. Brady finished with 19 completions on 36 attempts on the day for only 169 yards. That’s a scant 4.7 yards/attempt average. The run game was also clogged as Sony Michel averaged under 2 yards/carry and Rex Burkhead averaged just over the same. James White broke off a nice 19-yard run but he was largely ineffective outside of that.
In Brady’s defense, he spent most of the game with tremendous pressure in his face due to a porous offensive front. Even worse, he was throwing to receivers like the well-known Jakobi Meyers and Matt Lacosse. Julian Edelman is holding down the primary receiving threat, but it’s clear that first round pick N’Keal Harry is still finding his footing in this offense and Mohamed Sanu has yet to develop chemistry with Brady as the mid-season import.
All of this leads to a central question: with a Super Bowl ready defense and a struggling offense featuring the last gasps of Brady’s career, is it not time for the Patriots to give Antonio Brown a call?
If you’ll remember, Brown already spent one week this season with the Pats after signing a 1-year, $15 million contract (with $9 million signing bonus) following his release from the Oakland Raiders. The mercurial receiver lasted a single game with the team before his toxic behavior forced management’s hand and Brown found himself released once again. He’s been a free agent ever since.
In recent days, Brown took to his Instagram account to post a mass apology which included lines like, “Over the past few weeks I’ve had the opportunity to think about everything that’s transpired and I am deeply sorry to all who I’ve offended.” If he’s a changed man, or at least a repentant one, is it worth the effort for the Patriots to reconsider their position.
At this point, the Patriots have enough film and experience to show them what they need, but from the outside, it looks like some sort of offensive import would be nice for a team looking for any sort of sparkplug to help. Getting healthier inside would be nice for the offensive front. Having a first-round bye would help everyone earn some rest and reflection. However, it would also help to have an All-Pro talent step in and command respect from defenses.
The Patriots only have a couple weeks left to make any sort of decisions about roster additions. If Brown is going to re-sign, he needs to do so soon. Or maybe the Patriots are inclined to give it the best shot they can and see how the cards may fall.