The New England Patriots are ready to begin the Antonio Brown era, but needed to make some roster moves first.
Per Field Yates, the Patriots waived safety Obi Melifonwu and cut veteran tight end Lance Kendricks to free up a roster spot for Antonio Brown.
Melifonwu was inactive for Sunday’s New England victory over Pittsburgh after dealing with an ankle injury during the week and being limited in practice. A local product from nearby Grafton, Massachusetts, Melifonwu never carved out a role during his time in New England.
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As for Kendricks, the veteran tight end was acquired during training camp but suffered an injury that limited his production early. Once healthy, he appeared primed to earn a spot on the opening day roster but was suspended for the first game for a violation of league rules. Upon being activated, he was released.
The Patriots officially activated Brown on Monday and will now have eight wide receivers on their roster along with two others — N’Keal Harry and Cameron Meredith — still out injured.
This means New England will now carry 26 total offensive players on its roster and only 24 on defense.
Too Many Receivers?
The current Patriots’ season has already drawn comparisons to the 2007 campaign. And here’s another: the Patriots ended the 2007 season with 26 offensive players on the roster, seven of which were receivers. That also included three tight ends and only one receiving running back.
Opting to go with one less tight end this season, receiver Josh Gordon is being utilized in a similar role as Rob Gronkowski served in the passing game, just with less blocking. Even so, Gordon threw a couple of blocks against Pittsburgh on Sunday that even Gronk would enjoy, including one on linebacker T.J. Watt.
Brown joins an outside receivers group with Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, and Phillip Dorsett. Two of New England’s receivers, Matthew Slater and Gunner Olszewski, will hardly see any offensive snaps as they will be primarily special teamers. As for Jakobi Meyers and Julian Edelman, that duo will occupy the slot along with versatile running back Rex Burkhead.
Farewell To Obi…Or Is It?
Despite his release, this may not be the last we see of Obi Melifonwu in New England. The young safety still has some practice squad eligibility left and should he go unclaimed off waivers New England could opt to keep him around.
Melifonwu’s 6-foot-4 frame is a nightmare to go against for receivers and he could play a vital part in preparing the Patriots for tough pass-defending opponents as a member of the practice squad. His special teams’ prowess is also noticeable which gives the Patriots another incentive to hold onto him.
As for Kendricks, the veteran is officially a free agent and does not have to clear waivers to sign with another team. He played for the Packers last year. It wouldn’t be a total surprise to see another AFC East team, like the Dolphins perhaps, try to swoop him up as a means to get an inside scoop on the Patriots’ offense.