UPDATE (6:47 p.m. ET): The New England Patriots are signing wide receiver Kendrick Bourne to a three-year, $22.5 million contract, per a report from NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport.
The Patriots also signed wideout Nelson Agholor to a reported two-year, $26 million deal.
ORIGINAL STORY: The New England Patriots already addressed their need at tight end by agreeing to terms with Jonnu Smith. Now, they’re looking to bolster a receiving corps that ranked among the NFL’s weakest in 2020.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported Monday afternoon the Patriots were “working on a potential deal” for free agent wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who’s hitting the market for the first time after four seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.
Unlike Smith, who was one of the top tight ends available in free agency, Bourne is not a first- or even second-tier wideout option. But he was a productive pass catcher for San Francisco and possesses the type of versatility and quickness the Patriots typically value.
With Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and George Kittle all battling injuries last season, Bourne recorded career highs in targets (74), receptions (49) and receiving yards (667) while adding two touchdown catches in 15 games. He played both out wide (402 snaps, per Pro Football Focus) and in the slot (280).
In 2019, 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said Bourne had “as good of hands as anyone in this league.” Over the last three seasons, Niners quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and his backups have registered passer ratings of 102.6, 123.6 and 95.1 when targeting the 25-year-old wideout, per PFF.
A former teammate of Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp at Eastern Washington, Bourne went undrafted in 2017 but ran the fourth-quickest three-cone drill at that year’s NFL Scouting Combine (6.73 seconds). New England often targets wideouts with speedy three-cone times.
Bourne, who turns 26 in August, also has received praise for his run-blocking and energy.
If signed, Bourne would join a Patriots wideout group that features Jakobi Meyers, Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski, Marqise Lee, Kristian Wilkerson, Isaiah Zuber and Devin Smith. Edelman’s status for the upcoming season remains in question, and Harry’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors.
Adding Bourne to this bunch would be a nice start, but the Patriots should continue their effort to assemble a more talented supporting cast around re-signed quarterback Cam Newton. All non-franchise-tagged free agent receivers remained unsigned as of Monday afternoon — a list that includes Will Fuller, Curtis Samuel, Corey Davis and other big names.
The Patriots have spoken to multiple free agent wideouts, according to multiple reports.
Smith — locked up for four years and $50 million — was one of several big splashes New England made in the opening hours of the NFL’s legal tampering period. It also reached agreements with defensive tackle Davon Godchaux, edge rusher Matt Judon and defensive back Jalen Mills.