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Howe On T&R: Versatile LaFell ‘Can Do Whatever Patriots Need’

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Wide receiver Brandon LaFell. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Wide receiver Brandon LaFell. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — The New England Patriots had a busy weekend in terms of free agency.

The Patriots reportedly re-signed receiver Julian Edelman early Saturday, and finished the day off by inking receiver Brandon LaFell to a three-year deal. The moves boost the Patriots depth at wide receiver, and give Tom Brady a veteran threat outside the numbers.

The Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe joined 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich on Monday morning to talk about the signings. Though LaFell was primarily a slot receiver with the Panthers, Howe says his versatility gives New England some options on offense.

“He’s an athletic guy, 6-2, that can play the slot or outside. He’s got a body type of an outside receiver, but he’s versatile so he can do whatever the Patriots need him to do,” said Howe. “In Carolina they needed him to play in the slot because Steve Smith was more of an outside guy. He’s 6-2 and can do whatever the Patriots need.”

“When you’re in an offense with a guys like (Rob) Gronkowski, Edelman and (Danny) Amendola, who do most of their damage over the middle, you need a guy on the outside the numbers, and he’ll fit in with Aaron Dobson and Kenbrell Thompkins in that area,” Howe added.

The Patriots reportedly re-signed Edelman, who led the Patriots in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2013, to a three-year deal. Given his knowledge of New England’s offense and his chemistry with Brady, was Edelman irreplaceable for the Patriots?

“I thought it was really important that he came back, because you need continuity for Tom Brady,” said Howe. “Last season was pretty rough on him in terms of roster turnover, and you didn’t want to give him a second season like that. You have to make sure Brady knows who he is throwing the ball to, and with questions about Gronkowski coming back from the torn ACL, not knowing what you can get out of Amendola, and with Dobson missing the majority, if not all of the off-season workouts, and with Thompkins and (Josh) Boyce entering their second year, you need to know what you’re getting out of your receivers. You can’t just do a plug-and-play with an over-the-middle type receiver.”

The talented but troubled Kenny Britt will reportedly visit the Patriots on Monday, and would add more depth to the offense if he signs. But Britt can’t seem to stay out of trouble, so is he worth the possible headaches, especially if it means the Pats would have to release one of their younger receivers?

“He’s a really solid football player but he’s had nine incidents with the police since coming into the league… talk about not learning your lesson,” said Howe. “They’ll carry six receivers if they need to, but if they sign Britt it means it’s a virtual certainty that at least one of Thompkins or Boyce get cut, and there’s a chance that both of them might not be with the team after training camp.”

Howe also gave his thoughts on the Vince Wilfork situation, and a quiet market for running back LeGarrette Blount:

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