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Around the AFC East, Pt. I - New England Patriots

Pats Pulpit: SB Nation's Patriots Blog

It's Friday, Bills fans, which means that we're back with yet another rousing rendition of "Around the AFC East", where Bills fans can fill up their rant banks with the latest glowing endorsements of our most hated rivals. So drink up your Patriots fuel, as Tommasse from Pats Pulpit stops by to discuss the Patriots' wide receivers.

Buffalo Rumblings: Your team obviously added a lot of players to the wide receiving corps this year; how does this effect the players that were on the team last season ( i.e. Jabar Gaffney, Reche Caldwell, etc.). How do you see the final depth chart shaking out at wideout?

Tommasse, Pats Pulpit: "With the re-signing of 'Mr. Patriot' Troy Brown on Tuesday, the Patriots have 13 wide receivers unofficially on the roster. In alphabetical order, they are (1) Brown, (2) Reche Caldwell, (3) Bam Childress, (4) Chris Dunlap, (5) Jabar Gaffney, (6) Chad Jackson, (7) C.J. Jones, (8) Kelvin Kight, (9) Randy Moss, (10) Jonathan Smith, (11) Donte' Stallworth, (12) Kelley Washington, and (13) Wes Welker (list from The Boston Globe's writer/blogger Mike Reiss). How many of 13 will they keep? Six, maybe seven depending on the caveats listed below.

Here's five: Moss, Stallworth, Welker, Jackson, Brown. The first three are no-brainers.

Jackson was a rookie last year, but they're not going to let him go now. There's a chance, coming off knee surgery, that he'll end up on the Physically Unable to Perform list or Injured Reserve, so that could save a spot.

Likewise with Brown, they just signed him, so there's a good chance they want to keep him on the team. Depending on the Asante Samuel situation, he could end up seeing a good chunk of time in the defensive backfield, so he might not count toward the receivers either. So let's call Brown the seventh receiver. Depending on Jackson, that leaves room for two or three more.

I haven't heard a lot about Washington, and it doesn't look like he did too well with Carson Palmer throwing to him, so his status is in doubt. After Caldwell's AFC Championship game performance, he may be on thin ice, but he was the team's leading receiver last year. Childress was on-the-team, off-the-team, so he might end up on the practice squad or a cell phone call away.

I'd have to say Caldwell (I still can't believe he dropped that pass) and Gaffney are the favorites, and the last one .. I just don't know. We'll have to wait until training camp and preseason and see who performs. Knowing the Patriots coaches, they'll be looking for additional contributions on special teams, and there's just no way to predict right now.

Clearly, Moss, Stallworth and Welker are your Nos. 1, 2 and 3. Barring injury, there's little chance anyone challenges for those jobs. Welker is also your punt returner. If Jackson is healthy, he could be No. 3 or 4 with a chance to move up if he develops. I think he'll end up on PUP and/or IR.

That makes Caldwell your No. 4 (from No. 1 last year) and Gaffney a constantly-looking-over-his-shoulder No. 5. Kight or the rookie Dunlap or Childress your No. 6, and Brown your utility player (part-time punt returner, defensive back and No. 7 receiver)."

Well, at least Pats fans can say their depth is better - because that much is obvious. But I think it's premature to think that the additions of Moss, Stallworth and Welker will suddenly turn Brady into, well, Peyton Manning. Seriously, I think that Brady has hit his statistical ceiling. These guys will make him more consistent, but the lack of a go-to ground game (Laurence Maroney is still a huge question mark) will keep this aerial attack from reaching its true potential.

Installments from NY Landing Strip and a special presentation from The Phinsider will be up a bit later today.