Ravens release WR Andy Isabella - Good fit for the Patriots?
The Patriots transitioned from one good slot receiver to another when Wes Welker passed the torch to Julian Edelman in 2012 after Welker moved on to the Broncos as a free agent.
Edelman then made the most of his opportunity. He went over 1,000 receiving yards three times over the next eight seasons and was a focal point of the teams passing attack. He also caught 100+ passes in 2013 and 2019. He played half of the 2020 season and was placed on the IR after minor knee surgery and missed the remainder of the season. He failed a physical in the spring of 2021 and decided to retire.
Since then the team has struggled to find a slot receiver to give them what Welker and Edelman had.
Welker was 5'9" and 185lbs. Edelman was about the same size - 5'10" 198lbs.
Those smaller, quick, in-and-out type slot receivers is what seemed to work well in their offenses, but they have been unable to find that type of receiver to play at the slot receiver position since.
Now three years later maybe they sign a free agent to fill the void.
I think there may be one available. Andy Isabella was released by the Ravens on Tuesday and might just be worth a look-see in camp.
Isabella is a 4-year pro and played his college ball at Umass.
This from Wikipedia:
"Isabella played at UMass from 2015 to 2018. Initially recruited as a running back, he converted to wide receiver his sophomore year. During his career he had 231 receptions for 3,526 yards and 30 touchdowns. As a senior, he was an All-American and was a finalist for the Fred Biletnikoff Award.
In 2018, he led the country in receiving yards per game (141.5) and was named to the 2018 College Football All-America Team. Isabella was Pro Football Focus's highest rated wide receiver in college football, posting a season grade of 93.2."
He is 5'9" and 189lbs. Almost exactly Welker's size.
He was drafted by the Cardinals in 2019.
Here was the draft analysis from NFL.com when he entered the NFL draft in 2019 before he was drafted by the Cardinals in the 2nd round.
"Competitive, well-rounded receiver possessing both elite quickness and long speed to go with solid play strength. Isabella has the feet and fakes to uncover in a hallway closet, and the former high school sprint champion proved to Georgia that his ability to win deep should not be underestimated. Isabella could become a menace on option routes with the ability to add vertical routes from the slot, but he must improve his pass-catching consistency and smoothness into his breaks in order to transition all that speed to the NFL."
Early to re-accelerate after fakes, breaks and cuts
Elite short-area separation juice to open passing windows
Unscripted dashes to open areas when quarterback leaves the pocket
Creates after catch with play strength and elusiveness
Clever change-of-pace tactics stall tacklers and open the corner
When I was researching draft prospects prior to that 2019 draft I really liked what I saw from him on film. I thought he would have a very good pro career. But, he never caught more than 35 passes in a season through four years.
Was that a result of his misuse in Arizona's offense? Perhaps, but for some reason they couldn't get production out of him and was released four games into the 2022 season.
The Ravens signed him a week later and he played sparingly the rest of the season.
Now he's a free agent and looking to sign-on with some team for what I think would be at a veteran minimum salary.
If I was Bill Belichick I would bring him in and take a look at him this preseason. After all, nobody saw coming what Edelman and Welker gave them. Maybe Isabella could come out of nowhere like the previous two stud slot receivers.