FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- The New England Patriots signed free-agent receiver Nate Washington on Thursday, adding experience and more competition at a position that only has two roster locks (Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan).
Some thoughts on Washington:
Reviewing his tape from the Patriots-Texans game. Washington played 44 of 54 snaps for Houston in a 27-6 loss to the Patriots on Dec. 13, 2015. He had one catch for 49 yards in the game, beating cornerback Malcolm Butler up the right sideline on an excellent route in which he got Butler to commit to a break to the inside part of the field before turning the route up. It was his longest catch of the season. Had the throw from Brian Hoyer not hung in the air, it could have been a 75-yard touchdown. He also got behind Butler deep down the right sideline in the third quarter but was underthrown. Butler was Washington’s primary matchup in the game.
Inside-outside flexibility. Washington aligns on the outside and in the slot, so he has the type of inside-outside flexibility that the Patriots generally like with their pass-catchers. He’s been known more as a stretch-the-field threat over the course of his career (career average of 15.2 yards per catch) and he certainly showed the ability to separate in the deep part of the field against the Patriots last season. At the same time, the 32-year-old might be more effective in the short-to-intermediate areas at this point of his career, as he isn't a burner but still gets in and out of his breaks smoothly. He’s a professional route-runner with good footwork and is more likely to win by shaking a defender than beating him to win in a 50-50 situation.
Plays with an edge, but not a factor in kicking game. The 6-foot-1, 183-pound Washington isn’t an overly physical receiver, but he also isn’t afraid to mix it up and is a willing blocker in the running game. He isn’t a big factor in the kicking game, which could put him at a disadvantage in vying for a roster spot with other backups. He turns 33 on Aug. 28.
Amendola question looms. The addition of Washington once again raises the question as to Danny Amendola's status with the team because of his $5 million base salary and $6.8 million cap charge. Amendola has proven his worth with the Patriots, but the team might view those financial numbers as too rich for its liking based on his projected role as a No. 3 receiver. Washington's arrival adds another option to the mix with the potential uncertainty surrounding Amendola's place on the club.