As always, the New England Patriots are looking to surround Tom Brady with some more role players, and they appear to be zeroing in on running back T.J. Yeldon and wide receiver Demaryius Thomas.
After striking out on Golden Tate and Adam Humphries in free agency and losing both Rob Gronkowski and Cordarrelle Patterson, the New England Patriots are interested in adding some veteran pieces to their fearsome offense.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots brought in both former Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.Y. Yeldon and former Denver Broncos and Houston Texans wide receiver Demaryius Thomas in for free agent visits on Wednesday.
The interest in Thomas and Yeldon is understandable. Yeldon remains a free agent despite coming off of a solid season, in which he showed all-purpose ability on an otherwise woeful Jaguars offense, quarterbacked by the likes of Blake Bortles and Cody Kessler.
While Yeldon’s 4.0 yards per carry average wasn’t great, he was significantly more efficient than teammates Leonard Fournette and Carlos Hyde, adding far more value in the passing game with a career-high 55 receptions to boot. The Pats are loaded at running back and don’t necessarily need another weapon, but the 25-year-old is a former second-round pick out of Alabama and has plenty of talent; he could become a great complement to feature back Sony Michel.
New England needs a wide receiver more than a running back, and while it’s unclear how much more Thomas has left in the tank, he was once one of the NFL’s top 10 wide receiver. As a member of the Broncos, Thomas gave the Patriots plenty to think about.
Thomas was traded by Denver to Houston last year as part of the Broncos youth movement, and the 31-year-old is coming off of his least productive season. That said, he could still be a useful outside weapon for the Patriots as a veteran option, especially since he’d likely come at a low price.
It’s worth noting that Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels drafted Thomas in the first round nine years ago, and he may be a wide receiver McDaniels wants to work with again. Thomas could be a smart signing with a chip on his shoulder after being cut by the Texans, and he could compete with former first-round pick Phillip Dorsett for No. 2 wide receiver duties behind Julian Edelman if the Pats don’t draft anyone.
Between Yeldon and Thomas, the latter seems more likely to sign with the Patriots and appears to be a player they need more, but New England is wise to consider both.