File this one under the "low risk, high reward" category.
If Anthony Gonzalez returns to the form of 2007 and 2008, when he was a tough-to-defend slot receiver with the Colts, the benefits will be solid for the Patriots.
If Gonzalez resembles more of the player who had trouble staying on the field in each of the last three seasons and had limited production, there is little lost because this figures to be a minimum-salary type of contract.
In that sense, this reminds me of the Jabar Gaffney signing from 2006. When the Patriots signed Gaffney that year, during the season, the move was an afterthought. But soon enough, Gaffney became a key cog of the receiving corps, earning a contract extension.
Maybe the same happens with Gonzalez. Maybe it doesn't. But I can envision why the Patriots see value in taking a chance with the 2007 first-round draft choice (32nd overall).
Then, of course, there is the Wes Welker factor.
Welker, the Patriots' lethal slot receiver, has been assigned the franchise tag. The Patriots must consider all possibilities for where the Welker situation leads, including Welker not showing up for work because he's not under contract.
In that sense, they need fallback options. They have Julian Edelman as a top backup and now Gonzalez (both had 37 receptions in their rookie seasons).
Gonzalez doesn't address the need for an outside receiver, but he adds depth in a low-risk, high-reward type of way.