The New England Patriots have had a lot of key absences during OTAs that could potentially carry on into mandatory minicamp. While the first four games could be played without Tom Brady, the Patriots will need the rest of the roster to step up and help backup Jimmy Garoppolo. That means injuries cannot play a large role for the team this offseason, so when Brandon LaFell shows up to a charity event in a walking boot, there is concern.
LaFell had yet to be seen at OTAs for the Patriots and now there is some explanation as to why. According to the Boston Globe's Ben Volin, LaFell appeared at a charity even hosted by Danny Amendola in a walking boot as he is reportedly dealing with an injury. It is unclear exactly what the injury is, but it is keeping him off the field. Last year, Brady praised just how tough LaFell was as he played through shoulder and toe injuries simply because the Patriots lacked depth at the position. The issue is they also lack depth this year.
The release of Tim Wrights shines a light on the lack of depth the Patriots have in pass catchers. Last year they made it work, but can lightning strike twice? The Patriots are banking on Julian Edelman having another strong season and Amendola staying healthy. That may or may not happen. According to ESPN, there is more pressure on players like Brandon Gibson to step up and be effective this year. The veteran receiver signed a deal after two years with the Miami Dolphins not doing much. Gibson is a strong blocker with inconsistent hands and is injury prone.
According to NESN.com, the Patriots could make a move for players in free agency, but there is no guarantee Wes Welker is one of them. The former safety blanket for Brady has made it clear that he would be open to re-signing with the Patriots as he does intend to play next season. However, NFL sources believe that Welker will not be willing to accept a veteran's minimum type of contract which is all New England would offer. This could make players like James Jones or Reggie Wayne top options for the team along with someone like Jermaine Gresham who could act as a hybrid tight end.
New England might not see anymore roster additions as a priority for the team given what they got by with last year. However, with the potential of Brady missing four games, having as many offensive weapons on the roster is not a bad idea.