Patriots Receivers Outlook: Are Big Offseason Changes Ahead?

There are two free agents in the group


Feb 20, 2023

As the March 15 start of the new NFL league year approach, we’re taking a position-by-position look at the New England Patriots roster.

Who’s returning? Who could be out the door? What are the biggest questions facing each group?

Next up: the receivers.

Kendrick Bourne
DeVante Parker
Tyquan Thornton
Lynn Bowden
Tre Nixon

Jakobi Meyers
Nelson Agholor

2022 STATS
Meyers (14 games): 67 catches on 96 targets for 804 yards and six touchdowns

Bourne (16 games): 35 catches on 48 targets for 434 yards and one touchdown

Agholor (16 games): 31 catches on 53 targets for 362 yards and two touchdowns

Thornton (13 games): 22 catches on 45 targets for 247 yards and two touchdowns

Parker (13 games): 31 catches on 47 targets for 539 yards and three touchdowns

Will the Patriots make a splashy move? There are arguments for and against it. Many fans believe New England must give Mac Jones an elite receiver to work with, but doing so would require Bill Belichick to go against his established business practices. And the Patriots in the past have succeeded without game-changing wideouts, albeit with Tom Brady under center.

However, in today’s NFL, you kinda need a receiver who can strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenders. And New England just doesn’t have that kind of weapon.

With Meyers the consensus top wideout on the free agent market, the Patriots will need to execute a trade if they want to land a top receiver. And there are some intriguing options, from DeAndre Hopkins to Jerry Jeudy. New England also could explore a trade for a lesser asset, like Hunter Renfrow.

Will this finally be the offseason that sees Belichick go out and land an elite offensive weapon? Probably not, but we can’t rule out the possibility of Robert Kraft pulling rank and overruling him.

2. Will Jakobi Meyers be back? This might be the top question of New England’s offseason. Meyers, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2019, has blossomed into a consistently productive receiver and an emerging leader. In many ways, he’s the perfect Patriot.

But he also might’ve priced himself out of Foxboro. Spotrac currently projects Meyers to land a four-year, $50 million contract with an average salary of $12.5 million. That might be a fair deal, but it’s fair to wonder whether Meyers, at best a high-end No. 2 receiver, is worth that kind of money. Plus, if the Patriots want to add somebody like Jeudy or Hopkins, they probably couldn’t do so while also retaining Meyers.

So, it’s a tough call. Assuming Agholor leaves in free agency, the Patriots would be down two wideouts if Meyers also walks. Is it smart to make Jones, who will be working with a new offensive coordinator, experience that much turnover at receiver?

Ultimately, the Patriots should find a way to re-sign Meyers. He’s too important to what they do on offense and is on record as wanting to stick around for the long haul.

3. What do the Patriots have in Tyquan Thornton? It’s easy to forget that the Patriots last offseason did what was, for them, an aggressive move at receiver.

New England used a second-round pick to select Thornton, an ultra-fast wideout whom many evaluators viewed as a reach with the 50th overall pick. The Baylor product was proving the doubters wrong during an impressive training camp, but a mid-August injury sidelined Thornton for over a month and he wound up posting an underwhelming rookie campaign.

Despite showing some flashes of promise, Thornton’s route-running left much to be desired and his slender frame led to durability issues. He didn’t look ready for the significant role that he got.

But was Thornton just experiencing normal rookie struggles, compounded by the well-documented coaching dysfunction? Did the turmoil he endured off the field bother him more than he led on?

If the Patriots remain high on Thornton, then they might not need to make a major upgrade at receiver. But if they have doubts, they might have to make some difficult decisions.

To that end, the Patriots also need to figure out what they’re doing with Kendrick Bourne, who is capable of great things in their offense but was in the doghouse all season while hearing his name in trade rumors.

More positional outlooks: quarterbacks l running backs

Thumbnail photo via Eric Canha/USA TODAY Sports Images
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