By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — In a universe where only football (and not YouTube or Instagram) existed, the Patriots’ addition of Antonio Brown would likely cause a supernova.

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Yes, Antonio Brown is that good.

Of course, such a universe does not exist, which is why Brown was available to begin with. He forced his way out of Pittsburgh, got exactly what he wanted in Oakland, and then promptly forced his way out of Oakland without ever playing in a game for the team that was willing to commit $30 million to him. He reacted to his release from the Raiders as if he had been released from prison.

So clearly, Brown has had his issues when it comes to keeping things steady on a football team. Whether that problem continues or ceases in New England is anybody’s guess.

But when the situation is distilled down to its purest football sense, this move takes the Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels-led offense to an otherworldly level.

That is the case, really, with any offense that could have added Antonio Brown, who has the most receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns in the NFL since 2013. Brown’s also set records for the best stats over a five-year and six-year stretch.

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There’s a handful of guys — DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Michael Thomas, and maybe a few more — who can lay claim to being the best receiver in the NFL on any given Sunday. Brown is undoubtedly in that small group.

So, the addition of arguably the best receiver in the NFL instantly upgrades any offense to a certain level.

In the Patriots’ case, Brown’s transcendent talent will just be the latest infusion to a receiving group that is not short on it.

(Personal aside: I’ll never forget Week 1 of the 2015 season, when Malcolm Butler almost physically lived inside of Brown’s jersey all night long. Despite that glue-like coverage from the pest of a cornerback, Brown caught nine passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. The man’s ability to hide his eyes and then go up and almost violently snatch a football out of the air despite abusive coverage by defensive backs is the special type of talent that only Brown possesses. The speed, foot control, body control, route running and everything else are all elite, too. But it’s that ability to wait until the last second to catch any ball inside a surprisingly large catch radius that really pushes Brown to the level of all-time talent.)

While it’s unclear exactly how and when McDaniels will employ his new No. 1 receiver beginning in Week 2, the possibility of Brady lining up with Brown on one side, Josh Gordon on the other, Julian Edelman running in pre-snap motion, and Demaryius Thomas lined up somewhere as well is one that has to have both the coordinator and the quarterback salivating.

While Josh Gordon‘s reliability is always a question in terms of his suspension and substance abuse history, there’s no denying his unstoppable talent. Last year, Gordon ranked second in the NFL in terms of yards per reception, at 18.0. (Randy Moss averaged 15.2 yards per reception in 2007, for perspective.) His huge body and his tremendous ball skills in traffic made him a favorite target of Brady, despite having no practice time or training camp to get acquainted with him.

Then there is Julian Edelman, who in 15 games last year (regular season and playoffs combined) caught 100 passes for 1,238 and six touchdowns. He’s also the reigning Super Bowl MVP, and he’s been Brady’s favorite receiver for a solid half-decade. The only question with Edelman is whether he can maintain his health at 33 years old. But that is quite literally the only reason to hold out any sort of doubt about the player who spent the entirety of Super Bowl LIII stealing the Rams’ lunch money.

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Demaryius Thomas, despite a dominant performance in the preseason finale,  remains a question mark as he tries to return to form at age 31 after suffering a torn Achilles last year. But even if he lacks some of the explosiveness and separation ability that allowed him to reach four Pro Bowls, the presence of talent like Brown, Gordon and Edelman should lead to some favorable matchups for him. And his size and his hands certainly weren’t lost with that Achilles injury.

Looking at the stats, here’s what you’ve got in recent years:

Antonio Brown, 2013-18
686 receptions, 9,145 yards, 67 TDs in 92 regular-season games
41 receptions, 677 yards, 4 TDs in 6 playoff games

Demaryius Thomas, 2012-18
634 receptions, 8.496 yards, 56 TDs in 111 games
64 receptions, 462 yards, 5 TDs in 8 playoff games

Julian Edelman, 2013-18
430 receptions, 4,676 yards, 26 TDs in 67 games
106 receptions, 1,337 yards, 3 TDs in 13 playoff games

Josh Gordon, 2012-18
220 receptions, 3,826 yards, 19 TDs in 52 games

That’s a very rare level of talent for any receiving group. And if N’Keal Harry ends up being as good as the Patriots believe he can be, the team will get even more talent thrown into the mix midseason when the rookie comes off IR.

For any universe to be balanced, of course, there must be a departure or demotion to offset any addition. In this case, either Phillip Dorsett or undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers is likely to be the odd man out, which is something the Patriots will likely accept if it means they’re adding 1,300 yards and 10 touchdowns from Brown. (Brown led the NFL with 15 receiving touchdowns last year, despite not even playing in Week 17.)

And all of that is only exploring the receiving angle of this addition. Meanwhile, the depth in the backfield may also be as good as any in the NFL.

As a lead back, Sony Michel is very good. He powered the Patriots’ offense when it mattered last year, rushing for 336 yards and six touchdowns over three playoff games. That included the Super Bowl-winning score. In 16 total games (regular season and postseason combined), Michel rushed for 1,267 yards on 280 carries (4.53-yard average) and 12 touchdowns. Now entering his second year, Michel should be even better.

As a receiving back, James White may be as good as there’s ever been. Despite a long line of successful pass-catching backs in New England, White’s been the most prolific. He was the first running back to ever lead the team in targets during Brady’s tenure, and that’s with good reason. He caught 87 passes for 751 yards and seven touchdowns last year, career highs in all three categories. He also set new career highs with 94 rushes for 425 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. He’s one of the best receiving running backs in NFL history, and he’s entering his age 27 season.

After that, Rex Burkhead may not be exceptional in any one area, but he’s more than capable as a dual threat — something that forces defenses to be honest when it comes to playing the run or the pass. His ability to find the end zone three times in the playoffs — including twice in K.C., where he scored the game-winning touchdown — showed that he can gain tough yards when needed. And rookie Damien Harris is coming off a senior season at Alabama where he gained over 1,000 yards from scrimmage and scored nine touchdowns on the ground. At 5-foot-10, 216 pounds, he fits the Burkhead mold as a dual threat. (The changes on the offensive line may hinder the run game a bit, but the presence of all-world fullback James Develin should help mitigate the losses.)

And they’re all working around Tom Brady, who despite his age, remains the greatest quarterback of all time. His arm’s got plenty of bullets left in the chamber, and he reads defenses better than anybody else in the NFL. He’ll know exactly how to use his newfound arsenal on every snap.

Yes, tight end may still be a sore spot, but looking at all the talent that McDaniels and Brady will have at the ready, it may not end up mattering a bit. The talent is just overwhelming. Opposing defensive coordinators’ best strategy will simply have to be to hope for the best.

But of course, all of this is merely football-focused. And while the ideal world for Bill Belichick would consist solely of a football vacuum, the unfortunate reality for him is that many other matters occupy space in this universe. That includes egos, emotions, Instagram posts and all sorts of unpredictable behavior from the Patriots’ newest wide receiver.

That part of the equation cannot be foretold. But in terms of just football? Football-wise, the Patriots just made one of the biggest and best additions they’ve ever made in their history.

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You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.