Getting deeper into Brandon LaFell

In signing receiver Brandon LaFell to a three-year, $9 million contract, the Patriots added experience to a receiving corps that includes second-year players Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and Kenbrell Thompkins, in addition to top six-year veterans Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

LaFell enters his fifth NFL season in 2014, and one aspect that hasn't been explored much in this space is the mindset of the receiver-needy Carolina Panthers in not extending more to bring him back.

Along those lines, Dan Pompei of Bleacher Report delves into the Panthers' receiver outlook and includes comments from two "front-office men" about LaFell's body of work.

One concludes LaFell isn't a starting-caliber player, while using the words "stiff" and "mechanical." The other points to inconsistent hands.

When considering where LaFell might fit in New England, I don't think the team is counting on him as a No. 1 or 2, per se. What likely appeals to the Patriots most is having an experienced, versatile insurance policy in the event the desired development of Dobson, Boyce and Thompkins hits a snag. LaFell (6-2, 210) has special teams experience as well, so he could show up in that area as well.

The Patriots know what they have in Edelman and Amendola; it's the rest of the depth chart that remains a bit of an unknown.

And for a team that likes to run a variety of personnel groupings -- from two backs to four receivers -- one can see why the club saw value in a free-agent like LaFell.