A little under two months ago the New England Patriots traded a second round pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for veteran receiver Mohamed Sanu. It was a bit of a desperation move by the Patriots, as they needed to add to their offensive arsenal before the trade deadline and were willing to give up a bit more than they should if it gave a boost to their offense immediately. So, they gave up a second rounder for the 30-year-old wideout.
After a debut game in which he played in a little over 50 percent of the snaps in New England's win over the Browns back in Week 8, Sanu broke onto the scene, catching 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown in Week 9 vs. the Ravens. That game, even though it resulted in a loss for the Patriots, showed significant progress and hope that Sanu would become the clear no. 2 threat in the passing game for Tom Brady going forward.
But lo and behold, we are five games removed from that 10-catch performance, and Sanu has not come close to matching that production since. Over his four games, he has caught 8-of-18 targets for 34 yards and zero touchdowns. He currently ranks as the 97th best receiver in the league, according to PFF. The former Falcon has been a part of the reason why New England's offense has struggled over the last several games, though the blame can not be put solely on him.
While his production since joining the Patriots has not been worth what New England traded away from him - should we be surprised by that?
When the reigning Super Bowl champions traded for Sanu back in October, it was no secret that the price they had to pay for him was high. As an aging receiver who has never eclipsed 900 receiving yards in his career, a second round pick was a high asking price for a Falcons team that looked like they were going to hold a fire sale at the time. But because Bill Belichick loved Sanu's versatility, and they needed to add a piece to the offense that could help them win now, New England broke the bank to acquire Sanu. Because of this, it doesn't seem fair to grade Sanu based on what New England traded away for him, because the value was not equal.
However, even if we grade Sanu based on a lesser value, he is still not making ends meet for the Patriots. He is the lowest graded receiver on the Patriots roster, which is poor when considering un-drafted rookie Jakobi Meyers is ranked over 20 spots higher than him (no. 75) in PFF's WR rankings.
He's had about eight weeks to study New England's complex playbook, so it's hard to imagine that's what is causing his struggles. Though it could be playing a part. Injuries have hampered Sanu since Week 11 when he injured his ankle against the Eagles, so that could also be a reason for his lack of production.
What we do know is that Sanu is not performing at anywhere near the level New England needs him to. And it doesn't look like the grass is much greener ahead.