The Patriots released wide receiver Brandon LaFell and tight end Scott Chandler on Wednesday in moves that were widely expected around these parts. The two moves will save the team roughly $4.85 million dollars in cap space.
Releasing LaFell and Chandler makes sense. Neither was a factor down the stretch last season and it was hard to envision either one of them being much of a factor in the Patriots offense in 2016. So now that both are gone, how do the Patriots go about replacing them?
Well, there are different avenues the team could use to replace them. There are several veteran tight end options that will be available on Tuesday that could replace Chandler. Antonio Gates and Coby Fleener head the list but let’s not forget about old friend Ben Watson. Watson is a free agent and he has been highly productive with the Saints the last two seasons. The Patriots also have AJ Derby in house. He was out all of last season with an injury but the former quarterback has intriguing size and athleticism.
As far as wide receiver is concerned, the Patriots are more likely to address the position in the draft. This year’s receiver class is weak in comparison to the last two drafts but there are still several intriguing prospects including Leonte Carroo from Rutgers, Marquez North from Tennessee and DeRunya Wilson of Mississippi State. All three have size, can run and can be a threat in the red zone.
I highly doubt the Patriots will use the money they’ll save on replacing LaFell and Chandler. They’ll put it towards re-signing some of the core members of their defense who will be free agents next off-season. Either way you look at it, the Patriots have created two holes on the offensive side of the ball in the name of saving money. Now they need to fill them.