AFC South view on Gonzalez

March, 19, 2012
3/19/12
10:30
AM ET
When we shared the AFC West view of the Patriots' agreement with Raiders defensive end Trevor Scott, it seemed to be received well by commenters. So that led us to the AFC South view of the Patriots' signing of receiver Anthony Gonzalez, with ESPN.com AFC South reporter Paul Kuharsky:
"It was hard to object to the decision to draft Gonzalez [in 2007]. Bill Polian saw the end nearing for Marvin Harrison and knew Reggie Wayne was slow-starting. The Colts needed to have at least three quality receivers and the Gonzalez pick was an attempt to beef up the stable of weapons for Peyton Manning.

"Gonzalez came in as a quintessential Colts weapon: Precise, smart, crafty. His work in the first few years showed he knew how to get open and be in the right spots for Manning. He was typecast by some as a slot guy, but when healthy he showed he could line up outside. Manning and Gonzalez are close -- Gonzalez caddied for him at a celebrity golf tournament at one point. I don't think one develops such a friendship if the quarterback doesn't find the receiver trustworthy.

"But Gonzalez was undone by injuries, and then last season, though he was dinged early, he only played in eight games. In the team's final four games, he was inactive twice and dressed but didn't play in another game. At that point it was far more about being in the doghouse of Polian or Jim Caldwell and his staff, or both, than it was about being hurt.

"I think he's a high-risk, high-reward guy now for the Patriots. I imagine they aren't paying him a great deal, and if he's healthy he can re-emerge in a way that could make them look like geniuses. Or he can pull a hamstring during OTAs, set off a string of injuries and hardly see the field."

Thanks to Paul for sharing his time and insight. His work on the AFC South can be read here.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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