By Sterling Pingree: Sports Chowdah The talk of most training camps, as they opened up this past week, has to do with a superstar who is holding out. Even as Tom Brady enters the final year of his current deal, it has hardly warranted the major media attention that Zeke Elliott or Melvin Gordon has. It is amazing that with the Patriots hardline stance when it comes to contracts that I can’t think of a player holding out during the Belichick era. Terry Glenn, maybe? (Since I mentioned it: Brady will sign a 2-year extension before the season starts. If he ends up playing this season on the final year of his deal, this will be the story that won’t go away the entire season.)
Maybe it’s based off on-field performance. Maybe it’s binge watching the first 5-episodes of the NFL Top 100 Players show after being on vacation all week (at this point it feels like narrator Dan Soder is doing the voice over of my everyday life like I’m Kevin Arnold in The Wonder Years) but the Patriots need to sign former Packers DT Mike Daniels. Daniels has long been a favorite player of mine due to the fact that he’s an absolute force in the middle and center of attention on the Top 100 show every summer. Rich Eisen (a fatalistic Jets fan, as most of them are) predicted on his show on Wednesday that Daniels would absolutely wind up signing a one-year $7 million deal with the Patriots, make the Pro Bowl, win the Super Bowl and sign a massive four-year deal elsewhere a year from now. Daniels would take a very good defense on paper, that will miss Trey Flowers on the defensive line and make it a truly scary unit.
The unit that I am most interested in this camp are the receivers. Braxton Berrios was the late round darling of last year’s draft and was stashed on IR for 2018. If he is ever going to be a playmaker in this league, we are going to have to see something this year. Berrios, because of skill set and body type was immediately dubbed the next Welker, Edelman or Amendola, now has to set himself apart from guys like Edelman, Philip Dorsett, DeMaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman and first round pick N’Keal Harry. 2019 is going to be a big year for Berrios.
N’Keal Harry is going to be a lot of fun to watch, not just because of his skills, but because the Patriots never draft skill position players in the first round. Like Sony Michel last year, it’s fun to watch immensely talented young players perform right out of the box. Harry brings something the Patriots have rarely had during the Brady era: a big receiver that can go up and get it. Harry’s development will be fascinating to follow going forward.
Danny Etling is being moved to wide receiver. We saw Etling’s athleticism last preseason and the LSU product made Pats’ fans believe that there was a reason the team kept him around last season. Which made the team’s selection of Jarrett Stidham in April’s draft much more surprising. The team has had good luck in transitioning college passers into pass catchers. Just ask last year’s Super Bowl MVP. Maybe New England should bring Frank Edelman in to work with Etling just in case.