Kenny Britt's size brings Pats a notable contrast to their other top WRs

Wide receiver Kenny Britt, who played nine games with the Browns this season, would give the Patriots a much bigger receiving target at 6-foot-3 and 223 pounds. Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Here are a few thoughts on the New England Patriots being close to signing free-agent wide receiver Kenny Britt to a two-year contract:

Bigger target, similar to Michael Floyd move in 2016: At 6-foot-3, 223 pounds, Britt is a bigger target who offers a contrast to the top three players on the Patriots' wide receiver depth chart: Brandin Cooks (5-foot-10, 189 pounds), Chris Hogan (6-foot-1, 210) and Danny Amendola (5-foot-11, 190). Britt is more of an outside receiver and, with a larger catch radius, might give the Patriots a better option in terms of a player who can beat man coverage. That issue showed up at times for the Patriots in Monday night's loss to the Dolphins, with Miami playing Cover-1 with a robber in the middle of the field, which forced the ball down the field and outside the numbers. Although it will be a challenge for Britt to come in and make an immediate impact based on his lack of background in New England's offensive system, perhaps he could fill a similar niche role as Floyd (also a bigger target at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds) late last season.

Could close the door on Malcolm Mitchell's chances to return: With Britt coming aboard, it raises the question of whether second-year receiver Mitchell will see his chances of being designated to return from injured reserve decrease. Mitchell has been working hard behind the scenes with the hope of returning this season, but Britt adds another layer to the depth chart, which also adds another layer to the team's potential decision-making process. Defensive tackle Vincent Valentine (knee) is the other top candidate to potentially be designated to return.

What changed since 2014? When the Patriots visited with Britt in free agency in 2014, and Britt's off-field issues were part of the consideration, owner Robert Kraft reportedly told the Boston Herald that the team wouldn't be signing Britt. That naturally raises the question of what is different for the team in 2017. It is unclear how much Britt's off-field issues led the team to back away in 2014 or if it was as much a football decision as anything. If off-field issues were at the root of the decision, Britt has since had another three years for the team to assess his progress in those areas. A team's stance can always change.

What about Phillip Dorsett? In what might be an ominous sign for him, Dorsett didn't play a snap in Monday night's loss to the Dolphins, as he was bumped down the receiver depth chart with Hogan's return. With Dorsett not having a front-line role on special teams, his spot on the 53-man roster seems shaky with Britt's arrival.

Future planning in play: With Britt's deal extending through the 2018 season, this move could be more about next season than the current one. Cooks ($8.459 million) and Hogan ($3 million) are also signed through 2018, and Britt adds another layer at what is likely a much lower cost. Amendola is scheduled for free agency, while Mitchell is signed through 2019 (with a base salary of $630,000 in 2018). Finally, of course, Julian Edelman will be back from injured reserve and is signed through 2019.