Dante Scarnecchia Says Patriots Gave up on WR ‘Just Like’ Julian Edelman

Braxton Berrios

Getty New York Jets WR ad return specialist Braxton Berrios.

Does Mac Jones need a “binkie?”

That’s exactly how the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian summed up the sentiments of former New England Patriots legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia.

In a reflective conversation about the Patriots’ 2021 season, Scarnecchia, who retired from his post in January 2020 after 34 seasons in New England, spoke positively about Jones’ rookie season. But the biggest thing he believes is missing from the team’s offense is the kind of dependable slot receiver who is also the gadget guy and chain-mover in tough situations.

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“We’ve always had that guy, a guy who moved the chains,” Scarnecchia told Guregian. “Whether it was Wes Welker, Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, when all else failed, he was that guy. But they don’t have that guy right now.”

Those guys were huge weapons for Tom Brady during the Patriots’ dynasty.

Scarnecchia believes the team already had what Guregian called the “potential heir to Edelman.”

Scarnecchia Was Very High on Braxton Berrios

The Patriots drafted Braxton Berrios in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft but released him the following preseason after spending his rookie season on injured reserve. The New York Jets quickly claimed Berrios off waivers and since 2019, he’s been increasingly effective.

Berrios made the Pro Bowl as a return specialist in 2021 after he averaged a league-high 30.4 yards per kick return, bringing one back for a touchdown. Berrios also made an impact as a receiver with a career-high 46 receptions and 431 yards to go along with 2 touchdowns. The use of the 26-year-old as a weapon is likely just beginning as he is positioned to cash in big this offseason as he is now a free agent.

“He’s just like those guys,” Scarnecchia told Guregian of Berrios. “He gets open. He can run the reverses. People in New York think he’s the greatest thing since sliced bread.”

Is there a possibility the Patriots would pony up for the kind of offer that pries him away from their division rivals?

Could the Patriots Bring Berrios Back in 2022?

There is no question, the wide receiver position is one of need for New England. They also need speed and quickness on offense. A player who can make something happen on short completions or even get behind the defense would be a huge addition.

Gunner Olszewski had a strong season as a returner in 2020 when he made the Pro Bowl, but he fell back in every way in 2021. Simply popping Berrios into his spot while giving him some run as a true slot receiver might be a smart play for the Patriots.

The question is: how much will Berrios command in free agency? New England isn’t going to break the bank on a 5-foot-9 receiver who has yet to have a huge season as a slot guy–even though signs point to him being the kind of player who can produce strong numbers in that role with Jones.

It would be an interesting reunion of sorts if Berrios and the Patriots come back together. If he has the chops to become Jones’ binkie, New England should strongly consider making a phone call to his agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Berrios made $850,000 in base salary for the 2021 season, so it’s possible the Patriots could offer him a three-year, $6 million deal that could do the trick.

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