Antonio Brown released: Why the Patriots could be in trouble at receiver if things get any worse

Antonio Brown's time with the Patriots lasted just 11 days. The team elected to release the receiver on Friday in the midst of an NFL investigation revolving around sexual assault allegations along with Brown allegedly intimidating a second accuser. In a statement, the Patriots said, in part, "We appreciate the hard work of many people over the past 11 days, but we feel that it is best to move in a different direction at this time." 

So, with Brown's time in Foxborough kaput, now what? 

New England is left with Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski on the active roster at receiver. Special teams ace Matthew Slater can also play the position as well.

The Pick Six Podcast fired up an emergency episode to react to the news and what it means for Brown and the Patriots moving forward. Listen below and be sure to subscribe:

What makes the Brown release sting a bit more from a football standpoint is the team trading away receiver Demaryius Thomas to make room for him. That said, the Patriots will simply morph back into the offense that scored 33 points against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opener. 

In that win, Dorsett and Gordon saw higher production than they did in Week 2 against Miami, a game in which the Patriots clearly tried to feed Brown early. In Week 1, Dorsett was on the receiving end of two Tom Brady touchdowns to go along with his 95 yards, while Gordon found the end zone once and racked up 73 yards of his own. 

In all, Brady threw just one incompletion when targeting both Dorsett and Gordon in that win over Pittsburgh. 

With those two along with Edelman and James White, Tom Brady has plenty of options at his disposal in AB's absence, but there is a chance that dries up some. 

The wildcard of that current offensive foundation is Gordon. Given his off-field issues of repeated substance abuse over the course of his career, there's always the question of whether or not New England can rely on him for all 16 regular season games and the playoffs. After all, he hasn't been able to do that since his rookie year in 2012. 

If due to unfortunate circumstances Gordon isn't in the picture later in the year, the Patriots are not only thinner at the position, but lose one of their only players that can stretch the field, creating better opportunities underneath. When Gordon was suspended at the end of last season, the Patriots still had tight end Rob Gronkowski, who was still a threat over the middle that secondaries needed to account for. With him retired, the Patriots don't have that safety net. 

Then, there's the unpredictability of injuries. That group has already been bit by the injury bug a bit with 2019 first round pick N'Keal Harry and veteran receiver Cameron Meredith, who are both currently on injured reserve. They are eligible to return to game action after the first eight weeks of the season. While they could provide depth, it's tough to expect much as they are both still learning the complex Patriots offense while trying to build a rapport with Tom Brady. 

Really, Edelman, Dorsett and White out of the backfield are the three stable pieces to the receiving game, while there are question marks surrounding the rest of the group. 

Does that fear of potentially losing weapons for Tom Brady have the Patriots pick up the phone to call Gronk? It's not out of the question, but who knows if he'll actually agree to return. 

In the immediate future, there's no need for alarm bells to go off at 1 Patriot Place with the departure of Antonio Brown. In reality, there's probably some relief that this experiment is over with. But, if even one receiver goes down, there could be the need to go add some more talent to this cast as the Patriots try to win a record seventh Super Bowl

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