Super Bowl 50 appeared to be set for Tom Brady to return to his northern California home and attempt to surpass his idol Joe Montana for a fifth Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Denver Broncos, hosting the AFC Championship, had other ideas.
Tom Terrific as he is known to some, came within a few plays of reaching his second consecutive appearance at the big game. While his offensive line crumbled against the Broncos in the AFC Championship game, Brady’s lack of receiving options besides Gronk and Julian Edelman really stood out, as he was forced to rely on backups like James White and Keyshawn Martin.
Brady has made a lot of receivers look great while in a New England Patriots jersey. While a guy like Randy Moss, was great before he shared a huddle with Brady, Wes Welker continued to put up impressive numbers after leaving New England and there’s little doubt that players like Gronk, and Julian Edelman would be great in any offense, the names of guys like David Givens, David Patten, Tiquon Underwood, Jabar Gaffney, and Fred Coleman don’t exactly scream stud pass catchers. With the latter names in mind, here at are Tom Brady’s 15 worst wide receivers.
15. Wes Welker
I know it may shock you to see the prolific slot receiver make an appearance on the list, but let me explain. Yes, Welker put up some more than impressive number in his six years as a Patriot. He made five Pro Bowls, and holds the Pats’ career record for receptions, and consecutive games with a catch. While with the Patriots, he also became the fastest player in NFL history to reach 500 catches (he did it in 70 games) Despite all those accolades however, Welker always seemed to come up short when his team needed him the most. The biggest of those moments, came in Super Bowl XLVI versus the New York Giants.
With New England clinging to a two-point lead with just over 4 minutes left, and driving on the G-Men, Brady looked to hit Welker on a seam route that would have put the ball deep in their opponent’s territory. The Texas Tech product dropped the pass. While the ball was a bit behind the WR, Welker was still able to get both hands on it. Putting up great stats and getting some wins is one thing. Putting up stats and wins in huge games when your team needs you most is another story. Despite his talent and work ethic, it always seems like the wideout always falls short in the latter category.
14. Chad Johnson
At one time, the man formerly known as Chad Ochocinco, appeared to be a sure fire Hall of Famer. With his highlight catches and flare for the dramatics, the former 6-time Pro Bowler and 4-time All-Pro recorded 736 catches for 10,507 yards, and 66 TDs as a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. Traded to the Pats in 2011 for a chance to compete for a Super Bowl, the Oregon product put up by far the worst numbers of his career, as he produced 15 receptions for 276 yards and 1 TD. He did however make the Super Bowl in his lone year as a Patriot, but he only caught 1 pass for 21 yards in the Pats’ 21-17 loss to the New York Giants. He was last seen playing for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.
13. David Givens
Believe it or not, despite having names like Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, and the versatile Troy Brown catching TD passes from Tom Brady, Givens was actually the Patriots’ leader in post-season touchdowns with 7 until this year when Gronk caught his 8th playoff TD in the Divisional round against the Kansas City Chiefs. Some might argue Givens’ accomplishment is impressive, the other side, including yours truly take the stance, that it speaks to the lack of talent at the wide receiver position that Brady has had to work with. While won two Super Bowls in his four seasons as a Patriot, he never topped 60 catches or 900 yards.
12. Danny Amendola
The shifty wide receiver out of Texas Tech was the Patriots’ marquee free agent addition in 2013 after signing a five-year, $28.5 million deal. The former Dallas Cowboy and St. Louis Ram was brought in to to replace slot receiver Wes Welker who signed in free agency with the Denver Broncos. Besides being on the receiving end of Julian Edelman’s trick play 51-yard TD pass in the Divisional Round match-up versus the Baltimore Ravens in the 2014-15 playoffs, the Pats have yet to see much return on their value. In three seasons as a Pat, he has 143 catches for 1,461 yards, and 6 TDs, while missing eight games due to injuries.
11. Brandon Lafell
The Patriots seem to have been looking for that deep threat on the outside since Randy Moss’s departure in 2010. The Patriots signed Brandon Lafell prior to the 2013 season after drops plagued Lafell in both Oakland and Carolina. Brady somehow turned Lafell into an effective receiver, as he caught 74 passes for 953 yards and seven touchdowns. In 2015, those numbers dipped 37, 515 and zero. He had tumbled to no.4 on the Pats’ WR depth chart by the AFC Championship and he’s expected to be cut this offseason.
10. Austin Collie
As a member of the Indianapolis Colts from 2009 to 2012, Collie put up some solid numbers including 173 receptions for nearly 1,900 yards, and 16 TDs. By the time he arrived in New England in 2013, after a training stint with the San Francisco 49ers that year, he was a shadow of his former self, as three diagnosed concussions, and a ruptured patellar tendon cut his 2012 season short after just one game. As a Patriot, Collie would be cut and resigned on two different occasions.
He would only go on to play seven games in a Pats’ jersey contributing six catches for 63 yards and no TDs. It makes you wonder what Brady and Collie could have done together had the wide receiver been healthy. The BYU product is currently going into his second season with the BC Lions of the CFL.
9. Brandon Tate
Brandon Tate is another example of a high draft pick wasted on a wide receiver by the Pats that didn’t pan out. Taken in the 3rd round of the 2009 draft out of North Carolina, Tate the speedster, lasted only two seasons with Brady and co. During his Pats career, he played in 18 games and was used primarily as a punt and kick returner. As a pass catcher, he recorded 24 catches for 432 yards and three TDs. Not exactly mind blowing numbers. Tate would be released by the Patriots in 2011. He was immediately claimed off waivers by the Cincinnati Bengals, where he is still being used primarily on special teams.
8. Aaron Dobson
Injuries and inconsistency lead to the former Marshall product making an appearance on the list. The 59th player taken in the 2013 draft, had a decent rookie season in which he recorded 37 grabs for 519 yards and 4 TDs. With defenses paying tons of attention to Julian Edelman and Gronk, Dobson has a chance to step up and make a name for himself seeing so much 1-on-1 coverage. So far however, he hasn’t been able to take advantage of his opportunities. In the last two years he has 16 receptions for 179 yards, with 0 trips to the endzone. He does however appear to be another draft bust for New England.
7. Tim Wright
I would be willing to bet anything that Bill Belichick would love to go back and re-do the 2014 trade that sent Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for tight end Tim Wright and a 2015 4th round pick, especially after the beating that Brady took courtesy of the Broncos pass rush. To rub salt in the wound, Mankins made the Pro Bowl again this year.
Wright, the undrafted free agent out of Rutgers, was expected to replace some of the production the Pats lost when former Aaron Hernanadez was sent to prison. Wright didn’t even come close. In his lone season as a Patriot, he recorded 26 catches for 259 yards, although he did put up a career-high six TDs. Nevertheless, the Pats released him that offseason.
6. Chad Jackson
The former Florida Gator had a one of the best Junior seasons in NCAA history, as he led the SEC, and tied a Gator record with 88 catches to go along with 11 TDs. Jackson would go on to be selected be the New England in the second round of the 2006 draft, 36th overall. Like many Gator receivers before him, (don’t worry, we’ll see another one make the list) he wasn’t able to duplicate his collegiate success in the NFL. In two seasons as a Pat, Jackson would record 14 receptions for 171 yards, and three TDs.
5. Tiquon Underwood
The former 2009 7th round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars has speed to burn. With his trademark high-top, it’s clear that he also has flair. Consistency however, is something that the former Scarlett Knight doesn’t have. After two unproductive years with the Jags, Underwood signed with the Pats as an unrestricted free agent. In six games as a Pat, he caught three passes for 30 yards, and had numerous drops. Over the course of the 2011 season, he was cut and resigned four times, the most notable was being released by the club on the eve of Super Bowl XLVI. Underwood is currently in his second season with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
4. Taylor Price
The 2010 third round pick out of Ohio University, Price was expected to add a play-making element to the Pats’ offense after he broke his school’s record for receptions with 149, and finished second in receiving yards with 2,019. He also had 24 rushing attempts with a 5.2 average per carry. After being inactive for 15 games his rookie season, he played in the regular season finale against the Miami Dolphins, where he had 3 receptions for 41 yards. Price was waived the following season after only suiting up for three games. Since his Pats release, Price played for the Jags for two years, and then for the Seattle Seahawks for the 2014 campaign. He is currently a free agent.
3. Josh Boyce
Another 2013 draft choice, Boyce had nine career receptions for 121 yards in nearly three years as a Pat. The former TCU Horned Frog wide receiver who holds the school’s all-time record for touchdown receptions with 22, has not been able to parlay his college production to the NFL. While injuries and inconsistency have played a factor in his lack of development, the fact that just isn’t very good needs to be considered as well. He is currently a free agent.
2. Kenbrell Thompkins
Kenbrell Thompkins is cousins with Antonio Brown. Blessed with amazing speed like his cousin, the Cincinnati product does not have anywhere close to Brown’s hands. In 2013, the undrafted free agent’s rookie season with the Pats was successful, after he caught 32 passes for 466 yards, and 4 TDs. It seemed to all fall off from there however, as drops started to plague him. He was released by the Pats after two games the following season.
Drops continue to haunt him. No more so than Week 17 of this season when as a member of the New York Jets, facing the Buffalo Bills with a win guaranteeing the Jets a playoff spot, down by five with 18 seconds left in the game, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick threw to Thompkins as the WR blew by his defender on a go-route. Naturally he dropped the would-be TD and the team lost the game.
1. Jabar Gaffney
I told you there would be another Gator. Gaffney was so nice, the Patriots brought him back twice. His first stint with the Pats lasted from 2006 to 2008. He had the luxury of playing on the 2007 New England squad that went 18-1, and featured record-breaking seasons from Tom Brady and Randy Moss. In that remarkable ’07 campaign, Gaffney recorded 36 catches for 449 and a career-high 5 TDs. Despite playing with Brady in his prime, the wide-out never had over 40 receptions or 500 yards, and that’s what lands him the number 1 spot on the list.
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