What addition of WR Mohamed Sanu means for Patriots offense

Ryan Hannable
October 22, 2019 - 11:25 am

The Patriots have another wide receiver in the building and it is one who has produced at the NFL level.

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According to multiple reports, the Patriots have acquired Mohamed Sanu in a trade with the Falcons in exchange for a second-round pick. The 30-year-old has been a target of the Patriots for years, but they could never ultimately land him.

Sanu, another Rutgers product, is signed through next season, so it is not just a rental for the remainder of the year. He's on the books for a $3.8 million cap hit this year, and then $6.5 million next year.

So, what does this mean for the Patriots offense moving forward for the rest of the season?

As of now, the wide receivers room has Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Sanu, Jakobi Meyers, N'Keal Harry and Gunner Olszewski. Seven, and eight including Matthew Slater, is too many on one roster, so it’s likely at least one player is going to need to go in order for Sanu to come aboard.

Olszewski seems like the most likely candidate, as his real contribution this year has been strictly on punt returns. To this point, he’s played just 15 percent of the offensive snaps. The undrafted rookie is a popular player and someone the team wants to work with, so if he is the corresponding move it seems like a good bet the Patriots would try and keep him on the practice squad.

The addition of Sanu also brings up the scenario of Harry, the Patriots’ first-round pick, never being activated off injured reserve. Since he’s practiced, he counts as one of the two Patriots players coming off IR, but is there really a spot for him?

On game day it is hard to see more than five receivers ever being active, especially when there isn’t much special teams value for most of them. Edelman, Gordon (if healthy), Dorsett, Sanu and Meyers (the way he’s been playing of late) feel like locks, so where does Harry fit? With how much time he’s missed, it is hard to see him ever surpassing Meyers on the depth chart, so it may make most sense to save a roster spot and keep him out for the year.

Of course, this changes if Gordon’s injury, or others, is more serious than led on. But, it’s also worth noting if Olszewski does slide onto the practice squad that would be depth to protect against an injury.

On top of clearing a roster spot, the team may also need to make a move or two to create some cap space. If Sanu does not re-do his deal, he would count $3.5 against the cap and the Patriots have just under $3 million to work with as of Monday.

Relating to Sanu specifically, he’s a bigger receiver (6-foot-1) who lines up on the inside for the most part. In seven games this season, the 30-year-old has 33 catches for 313 yards and a touchdown. He is coming off his best NFL season last year when he hauled in 66 passes for 838 yards and four touchdowns.

It would seem as long as he picks up the offense with relative ease, he would jump to the No. 3 receiver on the depth chart. While it may take him a few weeks to get there, he should be full-speed ahead following the Nov. 10 bye.

With that being said, this isn’t like Antonio Brown where Sanu will drastically change the offense.

Will he help? Absolutely. But, it’s not like the addition immediately brings back up the 16-0 conversation and the identity of the offense changing.

The Patriots needed another dependable wide receiver and Sanu appears to be just that.

Related: Pats Stats Check-In: Pulling away from the NFL pack