Patriots WR Roster*: Danny Amendola, Josh Boyce, Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, Matthew Slater, Brian Tyms, Aaron Dobson, Greg Orton, Jonathan Krause
By staying healthy for virtually the entirety of the past two seasons (excluding a concussion late in 2014), Edelman has emerged as Tom Brady's most reliable pass catcher after TE Rob Gronkowski. Edelman caught the most passes of any Patriot in 2014 (92) and was second in yards receiving (972) behind only Gronk. He also remains a legitimate threat as a punt returner.
Check out the best photos from Patriots WR Julian Edelman from the 2014-15 Championship season.
Closely following Edelman is LaFell, the rare free agent receiver who actually earned Brady's trust. It took some time, but LaFell eventually developed into a go-to target around midseason. He finished with impressive numbers as well: 74 grabs, 953 yards, 7 TDs.
Amendola, meanwhile, remains a conundrum for the Patriots. Essentially a non-factor for much of the past two years, he had a flurry of productivity in the final month of the regular season and the playoffs, both as a receiver and kickoff return specialist. His sizeable contract and salary cap number could be a concern for the team, however, as it looks to get under the 2015 cap in time for free agency next Tuesday (March 10).
After these three, the depth tails off considerably. One young player who showed brief flashes of promise is Tyms, who could be an intriguing player to watch as he takes part in his first full offseason with the Patriots. Dobson has been a disappointment as a former second-round pick, but is working this offseason to return from nagging injuries. Boyce labored on the practice squad for most of last season before getting a late call-up to the 53. Slater, the special teams co-captain, is a receiver in name only, while Orton and Krause will face an uphill battle to get noticed this year.
Potential Free Agents: Michael Crabtree, Torrey Smith, Jacoby Jones, Randall Cobb
New England's offense, potent as it is, could be even more dangerous if it finds another viable outside threat to complement LaFell. Crabtree and Smith would certainly fill that bill nicely. Both are consistently durable, productive receivers with big-play potential.
Jones is intriguing, following his recent release from Baltimore, more for his return capabilities than his receiving prowess, and could be a suitable replacement if New England chooses to part ways with Amendola. Cobb also falls into the dual-role category as an effective receiver/returner.
Another name to consider is Andre Johnson. The long-time Texan has been informed by his club that he is being marginalized in their plans for 2015 and can request a trade if he so chooses. Johnson has been one of the league's best receivers for many years now, and could still have some good football left in him. Plus, he's a big target with something to prove and would be fun to watch catching passes from Brady.
Bottom Line Here: Overall, this position is strong, but top-heavy for the Patriots, who might look to add more quality talent for their Super Bowl MVP QB.