Resetting Patriots’ Receiving Corps After Pre-Draft Marqise Lee Addition

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The New England Patriots didn’t wait for the 2020 NFL Draft to add another wide receiver.

Roughly nine hours before the start of Round 1 on Thursday, the Patriots agreed to terms with former Jacksonville Jaguars wideout Marqise Lee on a one-year contract, a source confirmed to NESN.com’s Doug Kyed.

Lee’s signing upped the total of receivers on the Patriots’ roster to nine, not including Matthew Slater, who rarely plays outside of special teams. They’re likely to add at least one more during this year’s draft, which features the deepest and most talented wideout class in recent memory.

In the meantime, here’s an updated look at New England’s receiving corps:

Julian Edelman (age when 2020 season begins: 34)
The favorite target of former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and New England’s undisputed No. 1 pass-catcher in 2019. Edelman had nearly as many receptions (100) as every other Patriots receiver combined (119) last season and set a career high with 1,117 receiving yards despite playing through multiple injuries. He underwent offseason surgeries on his shoulder and knee.

Mohamed Sanu (31)
Acquired for a second-round draft pick at last year’s trade deadline. Impressed early (10 catches, 81 yards, one touchdown in Week 9) but saw his production crater after a high ankle sprain that required offseason surgery. Sanu caught just 15 passes on 33 targets for 114 yards and no scores over his final seven games, including playoffs. He remains a cut/trade candidate, as New England can erase his entire $6.5 million salary cap hit by doing either.

N’Keal Harry (22)
The Patriots’ top pick in last year’s draft (32nd overall). Harry’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and in contested-catch situations, but he spent half of his rookie season on injured reserve and lacked polish in his route-running. He caught 12 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns with five carries for 49 yards in seven games. The second-year pro also is the largest member of New England’s receiving corps at 6-foot-4, 225 pounds. He’ one of just two stone-cold roster locks on this list, along with Edelman.

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Marqise Lee (28)
The 2014 second-round draft pick put up solid receiving numbers in 2016 (63-851-3) and 2017 (56-702-3) despite uneven quarterback play in Jacksonville. He missed the entire 2018 season with a knee injury, however, and was limited to six appearances and three catches in 2019. Lee was cut by Jacksonville earlier this week and won’t be guaranteed a Patriots roster spot this summer.

Jakobi Meyers (23)
Meyers experienced growing pains as an undrafted rookie in 2019 but was New England’s second-most reliable wideout behind Edelman, playing in all but one game and finishing with 26 catches for 359 yards and no touchdowns. He’s an above-average route runner who should take a step forward in Year 2.

Damiere Byrd (27)
He’s a speed merchant (4.28-second 40-yard dash at his pre-draft pro day) who’s coming off a career year in Arizona (32-259-1 in 11 games). Byrd also has extensive kick/punt return experience. He was the first outside free agent to agree to terms with Patriots this offseason.

Gunner Olszewski (23)
A converted Division II cornerback who earned a surprise spot on the 53-man roster as a punt returner last year. He averaged 9.0 yards per punt return and caught two passes in emergency wideout duty before ankle and hamstring ailments landed him on injured reserve in November. Olszewski could face competition from newcomer Byrd in the return game in training camp.

Quincy Adeboyejo (25)
The 2019 practice squadder appeared in one game for the Baltimore Ravens in 2017.

Devin Ross (25)
The 2019 practice squadder has yet to make his regular-season NFL debut.

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Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images

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