By: Brady Gardner
The 2018 NFL trade deadline has come and gone, shuffling draft picks, proven players, and potent prospects between the league’s 32 teams. Among these deals, perhaps no group has been more impacted than the wide receiver position.
Within the final week before the deadline, elite talents such as Amari Cooper, Demaryius Thomas and Golden Tate were all relocated to new teams. These moves bolstered the offensive options for playoff contenders, while providing mainly draft picks to the struggling teams who dealt these players away.
One of the teams favored to land a wide receiver at the trade deadline was the New England Patriots. It just made sense: add some firepower to a fairly lackluster receiving core, keep pace with other teams making offensive additions, and of course, get the best you can out of the last years of Tom Brady.
But despite all this speculation, New England did not acquire a top-tier wide receiver at the deadline, subjecting much of Patriots Nation to great confusion. Sure, Josh Gordon was added a few weeks prior, but was that really it? This is a team that brought in Kyle Van Noy midseason when they lacked depth linebacker, or Aqib Talib when they needed to sure up the secondary. So if there’s a hole at wide receiver, why didn’t they address it?
No, the return required for these players was not out of the Patriots’ price range. No, Bill Belichick wasn’t depriving Tom Brady of receiving options as sabotage amidst the reported disagreements between the two. Rather, the answer is actually quite simple.
The truth is, they didn’t need a wide receiver.
Because in an offense with Tom Brady, the names of his pass catchers do not matter.
Time and time again, Tom Brady has proven that he can put up points regardless of the offensive options at his disposal. The man has thrown touchdown passes to an NFL-record 71 different players, and counting! He doesn’t need the best receivers in the game to succeed; he just needs players who work hard, who don’t shy away from contact, and who can make the plays expected of them.
By neglecting to bring in new pass catchers via midseason trade, Bill Belichick isn’t throwing Brady to the wolves, nor is he wasting away the veteran’s final years. Instead, Belichick is taking advantage of having a player with such an ability to bring out the best in the players around him. As has already been proven through eight weeks this season, Brady can manufacture upwards of thirty points with the targets on the current roster, so adding another pass catcher would be relatively unnecessary.
Now, I’m not saying that Belichick was completely correct in sticking with his roster at the deadline. There are still question marks at the linebacker position, and the team’s group of running backs has been depleted through injury. Realistically, these would have been the areas to improve, not the receiving core.
Your quarterback can handle the passing game. He’s done it all his career, and he will continue to do it until he retires. Frankly, he probably doesn’t care about the lack of top-tier talent around him. The real disservice to the 41-year old would be refusing to provide a defense or running game that can match the production he gets through the air.
You have an all-time great in Tom Brady.