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New England Patriots

Patriots Release WR Who Will Be An Intriguing Free Agent


It’s a crowded receiver room for the Patriots for sure, lots of identities without many of them being able to take control of the mantle, and while such depth is great to have, trimming is sometimes necessary. However, this Patriots WR was not one that I am glad to see go. Lil’Jordan Humphrey has shown some serious promise albeit some flaws, and will be an interesting prospect for the rest of the NFL.

A Look At Lil’Jordan’s Time With The Patriots

Lil’Jordan had just come off a pretty good 2021 campaign with the Saints, but one where his raw numbers were hampered by his quarterback situation. In particular, his route running, sure hands, and surprising ability to change direction were appealing to the Patriots. Of course, his raw speed, with only a 4.75 second 40-yard dash time, which is very much on the slower end for the position, was a clear red flag and warning sign, but his game speed on tape showed to be faster than the time indicated.

Humphrey impressed early in training camp, being a reliable target throughout team walkthroughs and joint practices. He followed it up with some preseason success, with 11 catches for 133 yards and a touchdown in two games of significant action. He showed to be a reliable target for Bailey Zappe (he wasn’t with Jones and the first unit) and often would have catches on multiple plays in a row. He made some difficult catches in traffic, which, with his size was a big plus for him. He also showed some blocking ability. His ceiling was looking like what Patriots fans wanted N’Keal Harry to be.

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However, in a shocking move on cutdown day, Humphrey didn’t make the initial 53-man roster. However, he did find his way onto the practice squad, and because of the confusing play time deficiency for Kendrick Bourne, he found his way onto the roster and field pretty early.

While his blocking was excellent, and he showed the occasional flash in the pan, in the end, he was targeted only four times, during which he had two catches for 20 yards. Humphrey went through another round of being cut and reclaimed by the practice squad, before this particular release. In the end, it felt like the offensive playcalling, which has been shoddy all season, wasn’t able to figure out a way to use him.

What’s Next For The Patriots?

The Pats are in no immediate need of another receiver, and already have a crowded room. They will definitely feel a void, because Humphrey was the tallest receiver on the roster, and they don’t have exceptional height anywhere else, especially with another tall receiver in LaQuon Treadwell also being released some time ago. However, the Patriots may find it best to keep the room as is, and maybe use the extra practice squad spot on a position of greater need, like offensive line.

While the best path for the current group is simply getting some evolution from a group in Devante Parker, Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor that is rife with talent, training camp standouts Tre Nixon and Kristian Wilkerson also are in the fray, waiting patiently for their opportunity. And if the current group continues to struggle, that chance may come soon enough.

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Was This The Right Decision, And What’s Next For Lil’Jordan?

The first question has a simple answer. No. In the end, the reason he was likely released is because he had a hard time getting open and was a slower receiver in a speed-driven league. However, Humphrey was probably the only receiver the Patriots had that could be reliable in terms of catching 50:50 balls, and the best blocking receiver they had. He wasn’t much of a cap hit, and I firmly believe that with better play calling, his talent could be brought out more. At the same time, the Patriots aren’t losing much in production because of how inefficiently they used him.

The first two times Lil’Jordan was released, he wasn’t claimed off waivers, but this time could be an exception. I firmly believe that he’s too talented to not make any NFL rosters, at least on a practice squad. It will be interesting to see where he ends up, but if he’s unclaimed after some time, the Patriots should seriously think about bringing him back.

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Written By

I am a scientist at a pharmaceutical company in the boston area, and have a Master's Degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT. I am a huge fan of all things Boston sports, from the Patriots to the Red Sox to the Celtics, and can't wait to keep writing about my favorite team! On the side, I also love to sing, play tennis, and rock climb!

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