Michael Jenkins Has a Long Road to Making the Patriots' Roster

Erik Frenz@ErikFrenzSenior Writer IMarch 28, 2013

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 25: Michael Jenkins #84 of the Minnesota Vikings looks on during the third quarter of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on October 25, 2012 at Mall of America Field at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Buccaneers defeated the Vikings 36-17. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Losing Wes Welker and releasing Brandon Lloyd were two moves that created significant question marks at wide receiver for the New England Patriots in 2013.

After signing free-agent wide receiver Michael Jenkins as reported by Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, those questions...remain.

Jenkins had 40 catches in 16 games with the Minnesota Vikings last season after coming off a left knee injury that cost him the final five games of 2011. He was released by the Vikings earlier this month. 

The rush to analyze Jenkins' fit with the Patriots has begun, but the better question is not how he fits, but whether he fits at all and whether he'll even be on the roster come September.

We have seen the Patriots take this approach in free agency before. We call it the "volume approach." 

They did it just last year at wide receiver as well. The Patriots added four free-agent wide receivers in the 2012 offseason: Anthony Gonzalez, Donte Stallworth, Jabar Gaffney and Brandon Lloyd. Only one, Lloyd, made the roster.

The strategy is to sign several veterans following the first wave of free agency and let the creme rise to the top. Though with a nickname like "Molasses Mike," it's clear that the Patriots shouldn't expect too much from Jenkins. 

Jenkins has been a reliable target in the past, but he's lost the ability to create separation. He can still win matchups with his size, but he's not going to stress a defense vertically anymore. 

After averaging 12.4 yards per reception from 2009-2011, he dipped to just 11.2 YPR in 2012. Granted, that was with Christian Ponder throwing him the ball in an offense that relied mostly on short and intermediate passes, but the aforementioned knee injury may have slowed him down a bit as well.

He's never been considered a "burner" by any stretch, but at 6'4" and 217 pounds, he immediately becomes the biggest receiver on the Patriots roster.

As of right now, that roster includes seven receivers total, only one of whom was on the active roster last year (if you include special teams ace Matthew Slater, who is listed as a wide receiver on the team's official website). If the Patriots re-sign free-agent Julian Edelman, that number goes up to eight.

The list is as follows (in alphabetic order):

  1. Kamar Aiken
  2. Danny Amendola
  3. Jeremy Ebert
  4. Andre Holmes
  5. Michael Jenkins
  6. Donald Jones
  7. Matthew Slater

Jenkins isn't a sure bet to land atop any of those receivers on the depth chart. 

Adding Jenkins is a low-risk roll of the dice on a once-productive veteran in hopes of fielding the best wide receiving corps possible.

Just don't be surprised if Jenkins isn't a part of it.


Erik Frenz is also a Patriots/AFC East writer for Boston.comFollow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes obtained firsthand or via team press releases.


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