By Sterling Pingree
Last week, I ran through the Patriots internal free agents that I believe will be returning to the team and next week, it is those that I think have zero chance of coming back to New England. This week resides somewhere in the middle of the two, the group that Rob Roddy and Bob Barker would approve of. This is the group that could return iffffffff the Price is Right!!! Our first contestant:
Cordarrelle Patterson, come on down, you’re the next contestant!
Why he could be back: Patterson is such a weird case. Not to lapse into Gruden-ese but: “Here’s a player, Cordarrelle Patterson, that can do a lot of things. He can return kicks, ran one back against the Bears last year. He can catch the ball, Brady hit him for a couple of long touch downs against the Dolphins in New England and in Miami, it didn’t matter the climate. Heck, after playing receiver his entire career he said why not, I’ll play some running back too. I tell ya, Bill Belichick he’s the best at looking at a talent and wondering what else they can do. Reminds me of John Kennedy, ask not what the team can do for you but what you can do for your team. Belichick could be president. He’s a great coach, got 6 Super Bowls, owns a boat, probably a hall of famer.”
What faux Gruden is getting at is that Cordarrelle Patterson never realized what his potential was outside of New England. Everybody knew he was an incredible athlete, but nobody could figure out the best way to use him. Belichick tried him in just about every role possible this year and Patterson became a dangerous option on offense and special teams. Is there another team that could use Patterson as effectively as the Patriots have? It is doubtful, although Patterson previously played for the Vikings and Raiders, not necessarily the greatest shows on turf. By all accounts Patterson is a good lockerroom guy who endeared himself to the fans in Foxborough.
Why he could leave: Because teams could be willing to overpay to have a versatile piece of the Super Bowl champion’s offense and they’d love trying to swipe a piece of the dynasty at a reasonable price. If some random AFC south team (I’m looking directly at you Tennessee and Indy) were to come in with a multi-year deal, I think CP will be taking his Super Bowl ring in a to go box. “Mr. Kraft would you wrap that up for me please.” (I promise there was no double entendre there. A week ago, I never would have had to give that disclaimer.)
LaAdrian Waddle, come on down!
Why he could be back: Waddle has been a capable back up who has grown up under the learning tree of Dante Scarnecchia.
Why he could leave: Waddle has been a capable back up who has grown up under the learning tree of Dante Scarnecchia.
Jonathan Jones, come on down, you’re the next contestant on the Price is Right!
Why he could be back: Jonathan Jones is tough to figure, he worked himself into a pretty valuable spot for the Patriots and as a young cornerback and the Patriots have had such a mixed bag at the position. There have been seemingly been very few cornerbacks developed by the team over the years with top pedigrees. Jones brings a lot to the table, great athleticism and an ability to play physically in big games. In the Super Bowl, Jones made plays, including a sack of Jared Goff, although everybody in the stadium thought for sure it was going to be flagged as a late it. It wasn’t, so it goes in the books as the Patriots 4th sack of the game.
Why he could leave: JC Jackson and the return of Duke Dawson next season could make Jonathan Jones expendable. I could see Jones having solid value to other teams and there could be a definite market for a Super Bowl winning cornerback who had a good postseason.
Phillip Dorsett, you’re up next!
Why he could be back: He’s sneaky one of the fastest receivers in the NFL and can do a lot of things within Josh McDaniel’s offense. We saw Dorsett used on a few jet sweeps this year, which seem to be en vogue after the Patriots ran it so successfully in 2017 with Brandin Cooks. Although, that play was a staple of Cordarrelle Patterson’s role with the Patriots. It kind of feels like it’s an “either-or” proposition for the Patriots where I think there’s a chance they could bring back Patterson OR Dorsett, none at all, but not both. Brady targeted Dorsett a lot in the red zone this season in big plays (the TD before halftime of the AFC title game comes to mind) and even without getting that many targets, Dorsett made the most of the opportunities given to him.
Did you know, Phillip Dorsett caught the ball every time he was targeted after week 4? 16 targets, 16 catches. That kind of reliability seems like something that Tom Brady would want to stick around.
Why he could leave: Because teams may be willing to throw a big contract at a fast receiver who is only 26 years old and has spent the last two years catching passes from the greatest quarterback of all-time. The Patriots receiving corps could look radically different next year but behind Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett would be a nice piece to build the unit around.
Showcase Showdown Bonus: Josh Gordon
There have been rumors going around that Josh Gordon could be back with the Patriots next season. I haven’t clicked on any of these links because they’re normally located to diet pills and stories about Cardi B’s scandalous past. (Spoiler, she was a stripper.) Here’s one where I probably should hold this contestant for next week’s “No Chance in Hell” group, because I feel like there is very slim odds that Gordon could return to Foxborough next season. The biggest being that Gordon is still on the Commissioner’s list and nobody besides Roger Goodell knows when or if he’ll ever come off of that list again. Another reason is because the Patriots went out on such a limb the first time that I can’t see them putting their effort and their neck out there again for a player who down the stretch last year couldn’t stay on the field. What the Patriots did for Josh Gordon a year ago was commendable certainly, but Bill Belichick strikes me as a “fool me once” sort of guy.
I may be wrong.
Sterling Pingree (@SterlingPingree on Twitter) is a co-host on The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.