Taylor Price release analysis

December, 3, 2011
12/03/11
5:10
PM ET
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The release of wide receiver Taylor Price on Saturday highlights some of the recent struggles the team has had in the draft, particularly in identifying and developing receivers. It also reflects how Bill Belichick isn't afraid to move on from his mistakes.

Price was a third-round pick in 2010 (the 90th overall selection), and while he flashed athleticism and potential in the preseason, he never broke through in the regular season. He played in just four games over two seasons.

The signs were ominous for Price when he didn't play last Sunday against the Eagles. With veteran Chad Ochocinco out for that game, there was an opening for a No. 3 receiver to emerge and all signs pointed to Price (link here).

That was the first sign that things were headed in the wrong direction, just a few weeks after offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien had talked about getting Price on the field more (link here). This week, there were hints that maybe Patriots coaches felt Price wasn't practicing as well as other receivers (link here).

Price came from a run-based offense in college, and he missed spring camps as a rookie because Ohio graduated late, so there was an understanding that his emergence might take more time than other receivers drafted around that range (such as Denver's Eric Decker). That's why 2010 was essentially a red-shirt year for him.

But by this year, the coaches obviously expected more and now it looks like they're investing in Tiquan Underwood as a possible No. 3 target to develop. Julian Edelman and Chad Ochocinco are other options for reps as a No. 3 target.

In the end, I think Price arrived as a great athlete that the Patriots hoped would become a great receiver. That transformation never happened, with Tom Brady and Price never able to develop the necessary on-field rapport. I think the complex Patriots' offense was part of the equation in Price never emerging.

Price has practice squad eligibility, but from this perspective, it would be a surprise if he's back.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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