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Patriots May Give Michael Floyd More Chances Than You Expect

By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Michael Floyd on the surface appears to be a classic low-risk, high-reward move that Bill Belichick loves to make at positions of need. They don't always work out, but they're far from the kinds of moves that would make any kind of negative impact on the Patriots' season if Belichick had to cut a new player loose.

Floyd, however, is a bit different. He's still due about $1.29 million of his $7.32 million salary this season, according to Spotrac. The Patriots now stand to get a compensatory draft pick if Floyd signs with another team as a free agent in 2017, so they are very likely to hold onto him until then - but that can't be the only reason they were willing to pay the former Cardinals receiver over $1 million for three regular season games, at the very least.

Floyd is going to have a real chance at playing a valuable role in the Patriots offense.

You may not see that this Sunday in Denver, considering how hard it is to pick up the Patriots' offensive playbook even over the course of a full season. He may never pan out, for that same reason. But he's going to get a real opportunity to rejuvenate himself.

Floyd is already practicing with the Patriots and Belichick told reporters on Friday that he will make the trip to Denver. He may ultimately be merely a warm body that gives the Patriots an extra option at wide receiver, a positional group that is working out well with who they have but is one injury away from having serious depth issues.

But, again, the Patriots likely aren't willing to shell out nearly $1.3 million for just a depth piece or an insurance policy for your top receivers. There's a good chance that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady want Floyd to make some plays.

Michael Floyd - Wild Card Playoffs - Arizona Cardinals v Carolina Panthers
Michael Floyd catches a pass during their NFC Wild Card Playoff game against the Carolina Panthers on January 3, 2015. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

In the absence of Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots once again lacked a big downfield threat who could use his size to fight for the football in traffic. Malcolm Mitchell has done a good job showing strong hands as an outside receiving threat, but he's not particularly big. Chris Hogan has decent size at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, but he doesn't have the same kind of physical skills that Floyd possesses.

Floyd is 6-foot-3, which instantly gives him the best size of any Patriots receiving threat. No, he's not even close to Gronk, nor is anyone ever, but he's certainly shown flashes of toughness and big-play ability as a downfield receiver - even this season, easily the most trying of his career both on and off the field. In Week 10 against the San Francisco 49ers, he made a 26-yard catch and another for 35 yards, both on impressive leaping grabs - the kind of play that's not common for a 6-foot-3 receiver and not something you'll see often from any other healthy receiver on the Patriots roster.

There are obvious roadblocks to Floyd potentially finding success on the Patriots, and getting on the same page with Brady is chief among them. It's a notoriously complex system that frequently relies on Brady and the receiver seeing the same weakness in the defense and executing the play with minimal communication at the line of scrimmage. Floyd certainly has the physical ability to do what Hogan did on his 79-yard touchdown against the Ravens, but there's no guarantee that he would have seen the same opening in the Ravens defense that Hogan saw, which allowed him and Brady to make the play in the first place.

Yet, there's even a chance that Floyd has a leg up on learning the Patriots offense. Most of the play-calling verbiage for Josh McDaniels carried over from Charlie Weis, who recruited Floyd and coached him in the same system at Notre Dame. There's certainly a lot for Floyd to learn as a new Patriot, but there's a good chance that he won't need to learn all of the play-calls from scratch.

Floyd is simply not the same kind of flyer the Patriots tend to take every year on castoffs from other teams. This isn't Austin Collie. This isn't the same as moving a low draft pick for a backup or signing a cheap free agent off the street. This is a relatively pricey proposition, paying $1.29 million for a receiver who may never see the field.

Then again, Floyd is already the biggest receiver on the Patriots roster and the most prototypical outside threat. He also has some knowledge of the Patriots' play-calling. He's shown the ability to make big plays down the field as recently as a month ago. There's no question that he has serious off-field issues to deal with, and learning the ways of a whole new organization after four-plus seasons on one team must be profoundly difficult, but the Patriots appear confident that he can overcome his personal problems and contribute meaningfully to the offense.

Even if Floyd's biggest opportunities don't come immediately, he won't be out the door as quickly as you may believe. But he brings more than an empty plate to the table and has a real chance to do positive things for Brady and the offense, even if it's in a severely limited role.

Floyd isn't just here to stay for this season; the Patriots may be expecting valuable production. Perhaps you should, too.

Matt Dolloff is a writer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at

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