Resetting Patriots’ Receiver Options After Odell Beckham Jr. Joins Ravens

OBJ was the highest-profile receiver left in free agency


Apr 11, 2023

The New England Patriots did not win the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes. After seeing the particulars of Beckham’s contract, it was clear why.

The one-year deal Beckham signed with the Baltimore Ravens over the weekend reportedly includes $15 million guaranteed, with the chance for OBJ to earn an additional $3 million through incentives. Beckham still has the ability to be a game-changing player when healthy, but that’s a lot of money — too much, we’d argue — to promise a 30-year-old who hasn’t played or practiced in 14 months and hasn’t topped 600 receiving yards since 2019.

Had Beckham’s market forced him to settle for a cheaper or more incentive-laden contract, he could have been worth a flier for the Patriots, who lacked high-end receiver talent the past several seasons. But at that price tag? No chance.

Beckham was the top option remaining in a weak pool of free-agent receivers, which the Patriots already dipped into to grab JuJu Smith-Schuster last month. They also signed tight end Mike Gesicki, a one-dimensional player who could be used as a pseudo-receiver in New England.

Who’s still out there if the Patriots want to add another veteran to a receiving corps that currently features Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker, Kendrick Bourne, Tyquan Thornton, Lynn Bowden and Tre Nixon?

Based on 2022 production, the top unsigned free agents are Chris Moore, Demarcus Robinson and Olamide Zaccheaus, receivers with little name recognition who put up respectable numbers in lackluster position groups last season. There also are a handful of past-their-prime vets like Julio Jones, Randall Cobb, Jarvis Landry, Sammy Watkins, Kenny Golladay and Chosen (formerly Robby) Anderson, all of whom caught fewer than 35 passes a season ago. The Patriots have been linked to Anderson in the past, so he could be a potential buy-low option.

Notable available free agent receivers, ranked by 2022 catch totals
Chris Moore, 48-548-2 (678 offensive snaps)
Demarcus Robinson, 48-458-2 (637 snaps)
Olamide Zaccheaus, 40-533-3 (737 snaps)
Randall Cobb, 34-417-1 (371 snaps)
Jarvis Landry, 25-272-1 (301 snaps)
Julio Jones, 24-299-2 (351 snaps)
Chosen Anderson, 20-282-1 (493 snaps)
Dante Pettis, 19-245-3 (524 snaps)
Sammy Watkins, 16-325-0 (357 snaps)
Justin Watson, 15-315-2 (494 snaps)
Byron Pringle, 10-135-2 (285 snaps)
Breshad Perriman, 9-110-1 (229 snaps)
Kenny Golladay, 6-81-1 (261 snaps)

Ex-Patriots N’Keal Harry and Damiere Byrd also were not on NFL rosters as of Monday evening.

No player on that list would be a clear upgrade over what the Patriots currently have at receiver. To find one of those, they would need to swing a trade. They’ve been connected to Arizona’s DeAndre Hopkins and Denver’s Jerry Jeudy at points this offseason, and both of those players have yet to be moved. If either’s price drops low enough, Bill Belichick could swing a deal before, during or after this month’s 2023 NFL Draft.

Speaking of the draft, the Patriots also have been in contact with each of the top four wide receiver prospects, hosting Boston College’s Zay Flowers and USC’s Jordan Addison for top-30 visits and spending time with Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Njigba and TCU’s Quentin Johnston at their respective pro days. Any of those four could be a Day 1 target for New England, which currently owns the 14th overall pick, and a report Monday suggested any but Smith-Njigba could potentially be available on Day 2.

Although this year’s wideout class is considered weaker than some of the ones we saw in recent years, there are several other intriguing players projected as second- or third-round picks. Among them: North Carolina’s Josh Downs, Michigan State’s Jayden Reed, Cincinnati’s Tyler Scott, Ole Miss’ Jonathan Mingo, Oklahoma’s Marvin Mims and Houston’s Tank Dell.

Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images
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