Phillip Dorsett won’t be the first named signed in free agency, and he won’t be at the top of any teams wish list. However, the reigning Super Bowl champion is a good player who can do a great job as a role player in any offense around the league. Initially selected in the first round back in 2015, Dorsett spent the first three years of his career with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the New England Patriots prior to the 2017 season.
Phillip Dorsett finished 2018 with a relatively underwhelming 32 receptions for 290 yards and three touchdowns. The Patriots had a glaring hole at the wide receiver position, and Dorsett couldn’t step up and fill it. At first glance, this looks like a strike against Dorsett. However, a further dive shows that Dorsett did everything the Patriots asked him to do.
During the regular season, Dorsett hauled in 32 receptions on 42 targets, good for a 76.2% catch rate. This is a great rate, especially for a wide receiver. To make things even more impressive, Dorsett’s catch rate jumps to 86.4% when taking away a Week Three loss where offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels grossly misused Dorsett.
The advanced stats back up this high efficiency. Per Sharp Football Stats, Dorsett had a 102 passer rating and 60% success rate when targeted. Despite his breakneck speed, Dorsett was actually at his best in the short portion of the field. A crisp route runner, Dorsett finished the season with a 74.2% success rate on passes within 15 yards of the line of scrimmage.
Dorsett will never be a superstar, but he’s an efficient weapon who gets the job done when his number is called. Josh Gordon’s midseason acquisition cut into Dorsett’s final stat line, and Dorsett never managed to overtake Chris Hogan on the depth chart despite being significantly more efficient. Still, plenty of teams could use a cost-effective wide receiver, and that’s exactly what Dorsett is.
It’s hard to picture a world where Phillip Dorsett returns to the New England Patriots. This isn’t a reflection on Dorsett himself, as the team seems to have liked the player. New England reportedly refused to deal him at the trade deadline and head coach Bill Belichick called him a “tremendous” player.
New England would love to have him back, but Dorsett will probably look for opportunity elsewhere. For whatever reason, Dorsett couldn’t consistently see playing time in his two years with the Patriots. As a first-time unrestricted free agent, Dorsett will likely join a team that gives him a clearer path to the field.
The Philadelphia Eagles are in a cap crush and won’t be able to sign big-name free agents in the upcoming off-season. Because of this, they could pursue Dorsett as a cheap solution to their wide receiver problem. Nelson Agholor took a major step back in 2018, and Philadelphia needs to get somebody to play opposite Alshon Jeffery.
Likewise, the Washington Redskins are facing a tough cap situation. Alex Smith probably won’t play in 2019, but his cap number remains on the team. Washington holds the 15th pick in the NFL Draft and probably won’t be able to get an NFL-ready signal caller like Dwayne Haskins. Currently sitting with $20.58 million in cap space, they’ll need to eat into that space and sign a quarterback. They won’t have the money to make other big expenditures, and they desperately need help at wide receiver. Dorsett would be a great fit in Jay Gruden’s scheme.
Last Word on Phillip Dorsett in Free Agency
Phillip Dorsett isn’t a superstar, but he’s a surprisingly effective weapon who provided a valuable role presence on New England’s Super Bowl roster. There’s some concern as to why he never usurped Chris Hogan on the depth chart, but the film shows a crisp route runner with elite speed capable of getting open in the short portions of the field.
New England would love to bring Dorsett back, but the five-year NFL veteran will probably want to go to a place where he could see more playing time. He’s not the top wide receiver on the market, but teams facing salary cap trouble could see him as a cost-effective starter. The Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins both need help at the wide receiver position and don’t have the financial flexibility to go out and sign a big name. Whoever ends up getting Dorsett will be happy they did, as he’s more than capable of playing a strong supporting role in an offense.
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