Essentially, it was a one-for-one swap. Randy Mossleft, Deion Branchreturned, both via trades.
But the impact of those transactions rippled throughout the wide receiver depth chart and the entire Patriots offense. New England's point-scoring output and passing attack exploded following the departure of Moss and the arrival of Branch, who helped the Patriots emphasis their short, spread-it-out passing game.
It was a good year overall for Branch and Wes Welker, who made another Pro Bowl (this year as an alternate), but other receivers on the roster struggled. It wouldn't be a surprise at all if the Patriots targeted upgrades at this position in the NFL Draft in April and/or via free agency.
THE WIDE RECEIVER ROSTER
(Players listed alphabetically, as of February 2011, with individual analysis below)
15 – Tyree BarnesAnother Navy Midshipman on the reserve/military list. His chances of being part of the 2011 squad are marginal at best.
84 – Deion BranchAfter arriving back in New England, Branch and the team worked out a restructured contract that should allow him to remain a Patriot at least through next season.
11 – Julian EdelmanA disappointing mid-season stretch saw Edelman drop several passes in key situations. He bounced back late in the year, thanks in large part to his success as a punt returner. He's under contract through the '12 season, and should continue to be a contributor on special teams, at the very least, as he works to complete the transition from college QB to pro wide receiver.
13 – Buddy Farnham
After spending the entire spring and summer of '10 with the Patriots, Farnham was without a football job throughout the fall. He was brought back as a practice squad member at the end of the season. He signed a futures contract, meaning he'll get another chance this offseason to prove he belongs in the NFL full-time.
10 – Darnell Jenkins
Was having another steady season on the practice squad before going on IR with a knee injury. How he responds to that rehab process could determine how much longer he remains a Patriot.
17 – Taylor Price
A disappointing year for the third-round selection, who was inactive until the regular season finale, in which he caught he first passes as a pro. He'll need a major year-two jump in development to become a factor in the New England offense in '11.
18 – Matthew Slater
Having bounced between wide receiver and defensive back in his first two years, Slater stuck on the receiver roster throughout the '10 season. He's not a factor at the position, though, as his role is almost exclusively on special teams.
19 – Brandon Tate
Made a few plays through the air in what was essentially his rookie year (he missed all but two games in '09 with knee problems), but was mostly noted for his kickoff return skills. Needs to improve overall to be a legitimate threat in the offense this coming season.
83 – Wes WelkerShed his knee brace mid-season and never appeared to miss a beat as a result of his February knee surgery. His many drops were a concern, however, as the Pro Bowler failed to catch 100 or more passes for the first time as a Patriot. He enters the final year of his contract and has already stated he needs to do better if he's going to be rewarded with a new deal.
15 – Shun White
No, you're not seeing double. White and Barnes, former teammates at Annapolis, have been assigned the same number with the Patriots. White, like Barnes and RB Eric Kettani, are on the reserve/military list and are the longest of shots to contribute in '11.
Up next in the Position Snapshot series: defensive back, coming Monday, Feb 7. Tomorrow on patriots.com, an all-new Debate Friday.