"We haven't seen much of anything from him. We'll see how it goes," Belichick said. "We'll see how he works into our receiver situation. I don't know. We'll see."
Belichick allowed that Whalen has primarily been an "inside receiver", which is mostly where the Patriots had utilized Danny Amendola, whose ankle injury is the reason the Patriots signed Whalen, Whalen's punt return experience was also part of the consideration, but not a driving force, according to Belichick.
While some might say that Belichick could be more expansive, this is his m.o., and with good reason.
WR Griff Whalen (14) loosens up prior to his first practice with the Patriots. pic.twitter.com/9Et2HBbpmj
— Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) December 9, 2016
Consider what unfolded in 2015 with the signing of veteran receiver Reggie Wayne, who seemed like a slam-dunk fit at the time only to fizzle out quickly.
This is what Belichick said at the time about Wayne: "Just like any player, we’ll see how things come together when we ask a new player to do what we ask him to do and how he does it and how that develops and so forth. I don’t really know about any of all that. We’ll see how it goes."
It didn't go well.
In the case of Whalen, it isn't hard to connect the dots as to what the Patriots hope will happen: That he can provide a bridge as a No. 4 receiver until Amendola hopefully returns to health, while keeping certain options open within the playbook, such as the four-receiver package. Maybe he could also help as a punt returner.
But there is always an element of the unknown when signing a player who hasn't been with the team, both from a schematic and team culture standpoint.
That's why Belichick, as he often does, put this one in the "we'll see" category.