What does Antonio Brown's addition mean for Tom Brady, Julian Edelman amd Josh Gordon

Phil Perry
NBC Sports Boston

Get out your biggest spoon. Scrape the brain fragments off of your living room walls. Empty them back into your blown-out cranium. 

OK now? 

Yes, it's true. Antonio Brown is a member of the Patriots.

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Let's put aside for a moment the potential locker-room ramifications of adding a player with Brown's ego and maturity level. And let's acknowledge that Brown can't play for the Patriots on Sunday night when they take on his former team at Gillette Stadium. 

But let's try to envision what this will look like on the field when the Patriots go down to where Brown is from, South Florida, to take on the Dolphins in Week 2.

First, consider how the Patriots covered him when they saw him as a member of the Steelers. Doubles. Lots of 'em. Particularly in the red zone. Corner underneath. Safety over the top. Regardless of where he aligned in the formation. 

What's that mean for the Patriots? 

If that's the same route Patriots opponents will take, it will mean fewer opportunities to blanket Julian Edelman with multiple bodies. It might mean fewer opportunities for opposing defenses to hang safeties over the top of Josh Gordon. Those are, at the moment, the only two likely double-coverage candidates for defenses going against this Patriots roster as currently constructed. 

How this works for Gordon is particularly fascinating. He's not a down-the-field burner in the same way he was when he took the league by storm in 2013. But he's physical enough, and he's strong enough to break tackles that teams still used safeties over the top of him last season. Though he wasn't necessarily a threat to run past a corner, if he broke that corner's tackle on a slant and there wasn't a safety close by, a 10-yard gain could've turned into a 30-yarder in a blink. 

Picture this three-receiver set when Josh McDaniels calls upon his 11-personnel package (one back, one tight end, three receivers): Edelman, Gordon, Brown. With Gordon and Brown on the outside, that could force teams to play with two high safeties, which would leave the middle of the field -- where Tom Brady does his best work -- wide open for Edelman or James White. 

Four-receiver sets could include that above trio as well as N'Keal Harry if he returns off of injured reserve later this season. They could also incorporate Demaryius Thomas, who looks like he's recovered nicely from a torn Achilles when he took the field for the Patriots preseason finale last month. 

The Patriots are constantly on the lookout for talent. They haven't been afraid to sign malcontents from other franchises in the past. They are only predictable when it comes to roster building insofar as they are unpredictable. 

In those respects, this move shouldn't come as a massive surprise

But don't underestimate this point, either: The Patriots have been desperate for receiver help for going on two years now. 

They added Josh Gordon (at a much lower cost) via trade last year because they were lacking talent at the position. They continued to lack talent at the position once he was suspended. They drafted a wideout in the first round. They signed Thomas at the low point of his career. They had a brief run last summer with Eric Decker. They took a run at Kenny Britt. They rolled with Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson as key contributors. 

They've needed pro-caliber wideouts for a while. They got one on Saturday -- maybe one of the five best receiver talents in football. The only question now is how he'll fit. 

But for the Patriots, for the last two years, at this position, it's been add talent when possible and ask questions later.

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What does Antonio Brown's addition mean for Tom Brady, Julian Edelman amd Josh Gordon originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

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