Patriots should regret not going harder after WR Adam Humphries

Ryan Hannable
August 16, 2019 - 8:48 am

NASHVILLE — The past few days have served as a reminder the Patriots wide receiver situation really isn’t that great.

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Aside from Julian Edelman, who is currently on NFI, no one really knows what the team has from any of its wideouts. And making matters worse is injuries have forced a number of players to miss practices.

On Thursday, Tom Brady’s first-team wide receivers included Jakobi Meyers, Braxton Berrios, Dontrelle Inman and Gunner Olszewski, who at this time last year as a Division-II cornerback.

And while he left both practices this week early, there was a player on the other side of the field who very well could have been on the Patriots and helped their cause at the position — Adam Humphries.

Humphries was one of the Patriots' main targets this offseason, but he ultimately chose the Titans even after the Patriots upped their offer when he agreed to terms with Tennessee. The former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide out signed a four-year contract worth $36 million, while the Patriots offer was reportedly in the $10 million per year range.

The Patriots really should have gone after him harder and offered more money than they did. (Full disclosure, there’s no guarantee he would have chosen New England even if this were the case, but it certainly wouldn’t have hurt its cause.)

The free agent wide receiver market wasn’t great, and the Patriots knew that. The 26-year-old was one of the few players who actually fit what they like in a receiver and needed, but yet they fell short.

Even though he’s one player, he would instantly have made the group a lot better than what it is. Right now, the only players with any real NFL experience are Edelman (NFI), Phillip Dorsett (missed Thursday’s session with thumb injury), Maurice Harris (missed Thursday’s session with undisclosed injury) and Dontrelle Inman.

A lot is depending on first-round pick N’Keal Harry, who is also injured and didn’t practice all week following and up-and-down start to the summer.

If Humphries were in the mix, he and Edelman would have been a terrific inside tandem and all the team would have needed to find is someone to play on the outside with them. Harry and even Jakobi Meyers come to mind.

Now, the Patriots are trying to find multiple players to stick around and ultimately contribute.

It has to be difficult for Brady, who is 42 years old, to look around him and see players half his age with no NFL experience being the ones he needs in order to move the ball down the field. For his entire career he’s been able to make a number of receivers a lot better than they are, but with all the undrafted rookies and inexperienced players, it’s asking a lot even of him.

“Training camp is an interesting time with a lot of bodies and there a lot of guys going in and out,” Brady said Thursday. “Some years you might have three guys set or four guys set. I think this year we haven’t really had that. It’s good work for the quarterbacks just to make a read and make a throw. Whether we come up with it or not, at least we are going to the right place and making a good decisive play. There is still a lot to be gained with guys moving in and out. That’s just the way it’s been.”

Humphries would have been the perfect addition for Brady and the Patriots offense. He runs a lot of the same routes Brady loves with Edelman and the pair could be a matchup nightmare for defenses each and every week.

And instead of hoping multiple players (Demaryius Thomas, Harry, Harris, Berrios, etc.) work out, having Humphries in the mix realistically only one of them would have needed to.

While the Patriots still had a successful two days practicing against the Titans, looking across the field and seeing No. 10 in white served as a reminder of what could have been.

Related: 12 things to watch for in Patriots vs. Titans