The Patriots’ search for a wide receiver has now led them to sign a guy that even the Cleveland Browns couldn’t put up with anymore.
Corey Coleman, the 15th overall pick by the Browns in 2016, had a prominent role in the first few episodes of this year’s Hard Knocks. That role was primarily to be ridden by Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley — a noted red-ass — whose disgust with Coleman’s effort and production was evident.
“We just got to get his brain right,” Haley was filmed saying to a team official after leaving a practice where he clashed with Coleman.
The editing leads one to believe that the best way for Haley to do that was to demote Coleman because the next scene showed Coleman entering the office of head coach Hue Jackson’s office and saying in an emotion-choked voice, “Why am I running second team?”
“What did you say?” replied Jackson.
“Why am I running second team?” Coleman repeated. “This shit’s crazy.”
“Is Todd in there?” asked Jackson. “Go ask Todd.”
“If you don’t want me to play, why don’t y’all just trade me,” suggested Coleman.
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And that’s what the Browns did, shipping Coleman to Buffalo in exchange for a seventh-round pick.
When he got to Buffalo, Coleman said he didn’t like the way he was portrayed by HBO. That became the least of his problems, though, as he was released by Buffalo during the cut to 53. The release stuck the Bills with $3.55 million in dead money because Coleman had guarantees.
Bills GM Brandon Beane had this to say when Coleman was released:
“He tried hard. He really did. Where he came in to learn a new offense, he just didn’t jell. It’s one of those things you ask yourself, ‘Have we given this enough time?’ The talent’s there. Anybody that’s been around the practice field, you see he has a skill set. But we just never were able to make it mesh on the field with him, and it’s a production business.
“People think, ‘Oh, G.M.s love to protect their draft picks.’ Well, if I’m protecting my draft picks, I gave a seventh-round pick for this guy and guaranteed some cash [$3.55 million for the 2018 season]. You don’t want to see that. But you’ve got to be true to who earned the spot, and we just felt in the limited time that we were still unsure it was going to work, and to kick someone else out that we knew would work or felt better about, we just didn’t feel that was right.
“We talk about earning your spot. We just didn’t feel he’d done enough to earn it, and in fairness to Corey, it is hard to get here in August and learn an offense when you’re fighting for reps and haven’t practiced with any of these quarterbacks. That’s where I left myself late Friday night as I was debating this: ‘Am I being fair to Corey, and am I being fair to the team?’ At the end of the day, I have to be fair to the team.”
In short, the recent Corey Coleman backstory sucks. You have a player who was traded away by a team that’s has won once since 2015. And the team that traded for him — which gave up a draft pick and a few million to have him around for a few weeks — just lost its opener 47-3.
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That Coleman is a Patriot speaks to the team’s desperation to find a player to augment the wideout trio of Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarelle Patterson, a group that would be most generously described as, “OK, I guess . . . not completely horrible.”
The situation wouldn’t be so dire if Julian Edelman hadn’t gotten suspended for PEDs and Malcolm Mitchell was able to come back from his injuries. But Edelman did and Mitchell wasn’t.
So the Patriots keep cycling through players — Kenny Britt, Jordan Matthews, Eric Decker — trying to hit on someone who can make it possible for Tom Brady to not, for instance, have to throw to his fullback James Develin for a key conversion in the fourth quarter.
The flip side to pointing out that the Patriots are relegated to scooping up castoffs from the Bills and Browns is to point out that those teams are horrendous for a reason.
Playing with the best quarterback in NFL history and an offensive coordinator who’s designed plays to wring production from players a lot less talented than Coleman, it won’t be a surprise to anyone if — in a month — everyone’s chortling about the stupid Bills and Browns giving up on the misunderstood Coleman who merely needed a change of scenery.
There’s nothing but upside for both sides in this union.
For Coleman, the Patriots are the branch Coleman he was able to grab as his NFL career went over the cliff.
We’ll see how long he hangs on.