Those New England Patriots sure run a tight ship up in Foxboro. Sure, the occasional murderer slips through the cracks, but nothing major. Veteran wide receiver Julian Edelman’s four-game suspension he is set to face in 2018, coming off of missing the entire year in 2017 with a torn ACL, is much ado about nothing.
According to various sources, Edelman’s suspension comes for violating the league’s performance-enhancing substances policy. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ right tackle, Marcus Gilbert, served a four-game suspension during the second half of the 2017 season for the same reason.
Edelman, who recently turned 32, is entering his 10th season and is pretty much the only long-term player remaining at the position for the Patriots. They lost Danny Amendola in free agency, who signed with the Miami Dolphins—whom New England plays in Week Four—and they also traded Brandin Cooks after having traded for him a year earlier.
Chris Hogan is entering his third season with the team, and Malcolm Mitchell remains. They brought in veteran Kenny Britt late last season after he was cut by the Cleveland Browns, and also last year traded for Phillip Dorsett. They added Jordan Matthews and Cordarrelle Patterson in the offseason, and drafted Braxton Berrios in the sixth round.
Cooks was the only consistently productive wide receiver last season. He caught 65 passes—albeit on 114 targets—for 1082 yards and seven touchdowns. Without Edelman, Amendola and Hogan combined for little more than 1100 receiving yards between them, though Hogan had five receiving touchdowns. Amendola had two.
Of course it’s been a long time since the Patriots’ passing game has run primarily through its wide receivers. Tom Brady makes great use of his All-World tight end, Rob Gronkowski, who once again gained over 1000 receiving yards with eight touchdowns last season, including 18 explosive plays and 57 first downs on 69 receptions.
The diverse group of running backs is also an essential part of their offense, with James White, Rex Burkhead, and Dion Lewis all playing their roles. Lewis is gone, but they used a first-round draft pick on Sony Michel.
Suffice it to say that the Patriots will get by if Edelman fails to win his appeal to overturn his four-game suspension. Given the timing, it’s likely that he was caught using something to heal from his injury faster.
The Patriots could have used him last season in the Super Bowl, in spite of the fact that they set an all-time record for the most offensive yards in an NFL game.