Patriots Sign WR Dontrelle Inman
By Kevin Duffy
FOXBORO -- Two weeks after selecting N’Keal Harry in the first round of the draft, the New England Patriots continue to explore their options at wide receiver.
Their latest addition is free agent Dontrelle Inman, who came on strong at the end of last season with the Colts.
Inman agreed to a one-year deal with the Pats, according to multiple reports.
ESPN’s Mike Reiss first reported the story.
Inman is an intriguing addition. He was signed by Indianapolis midway through the 2018 season and emerged as a go-to option for Andrew Luck down the stretch, catching 17 passes on 19 targets for 231 yards and three touchdowns in the final four games (including playoffs).
In the postseason, Inman served as the No. 2 receiver alongside T.Y. Hilton.
The 6-foot-3, 205-pound Inman enjoyed a career season with the Chargers in 2016, hauling in 58 passes for 810 yards. He lacks game-breaking speed and athleticism, but is a polished route-runner with ideal size.
“This guy is just a pro,” Colts coach Frank Reich said last season. “We knew getting him in the building that we would not only get production from him, but leadership. He has really provided that. I mean he is a really stabilizing, calming influence in the receiver room. This guy has been there, done that and has seen a lot of ball. He’s got a great perspective, a great work ethic and then is a really smart and savvy football player.”
Inman expressed interest in returning to the Colts, but the club added free agent Devin Funchess and drafted Ohio State’s Parris Campbell in the second round.
He lands in a nice spot in New England, where there is opportunity to carve out a sizable role.
Julian Edelman and Harry are locks to make the roster. Phillip Dorsett, who re-signed on a one-year deal earlier this offseason, will likely be on the team, too.
Josh Gordon remains an unknown, as he’s indefinitely suspended by the NFL. Demaryius Thomas will be seven months removed from an Achilles tear when training camp opens.
Inman is likely battling with second-year pro Braxton Berrios (a slot receiver), free agent signee Maurice Harris, and a trio of undrafted rookies -- Xavier Ubosi, Jakobi Meyers and Ryan Davis -- for a job.
If Gordon and Thomas are both sidelined to start the season, it’s possible the Patriots keep two players from the latter group.
The Patriots will be Inman’s fourth team in the past three seasons. After going undrafted in 2011, Inman began his professional career in the CFL. He signed a futures contract with the Chargers in 2014 and has stuck in the league ever since.
“If you want one quality for a player, you want them to have dependability,” Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers told reporters in 2016. “Dontrelle is a good player. He makes plays, runs good routes, (but) the main thing is he is dependable. You can count on him to run the right route, to play any position (and) to do his job every day. That is what we thought we were getting when we got him from Canada. (Former offensive coordinator) Frank (Reich) had talked to the coach he played for in Canada and he said, ‘If I had 41, or however big their roster is, Dontrelles, I would have a heck of a team.’”