Calvin Ridley reportedly will not be joining the New England Patriots.

Ridley shockingly decided to sign a four-year contract with the Tennessee Titans, as first reported by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport on Wednesday at 5 p.m.. Ridley was expected to join either the Jacksonville Jaguars or Patriots. The two teams were heavily linked to the veteran receiver during the legal tampering window and first hour of NFL free agency Wednesday.

It means the Patriots still have a huge void to fill.

De facto general manager Eliot Wolf and company set out to weaponize the offense this offseason. The first phase of the offseason came and went without the team doing so. The return of receiver Kendrick Bourne and tight end Hunter Henry are fine moves. As are the signings of Austin Hooper and pass-catching running back Antonio Gibson. But they don’t move the needle after a 4-13 campaign.

Story continues below advertisement

The Patriots still could address the situation in the NFL draft. Just about everyone praises the receiver depth in the class.

But given that it looks like New England will draft a quarterback with its first pick — and thus not land high-end wideouts like Marvin Harrison Jr. or Rome Odunze — the Patriots could transition to the trade market or add a cap casualty.

    What do you think?  Leave a comment.

Here are five wideouts who make sense:

Tee Higgins
Higgins reportedly has requested to be traded by the Cincinnati Bengals, who used their franchise tag on the receiver last month. It’s not always a good idea to give up draft capital for a player who you then have to sign to a long-term contract, but this should be an exception for the Patriots. Higgins, given both his age (25) and production as Cincinnati’s WR2 behind Ja’Marr Chase, would give the Patriots a true top wideout. It was known the path to Higgins would be more difficult than signing a free agent like Ridley, but it’s always been worth pursuing.

Story continues below advertisement

Brandon Aiyuk
The 49ers have said they plan to keep Aiyuk, who enters the final year of his rookie contract after San Francisco picked up his fifth-year option. But perhaps Aiyuk could grow tired of contract negotiations and ask to be sent elsewhere. Aiyuk, similar to Higgins, is younger (25) and fits the mold of a legitimate WR1. It might take a second-round pick to pry him from San Francisco, but after back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons, Aiyuk is worth it. It’s an investment in your young quarterback, after all.

Courtland Sutton
Sutton didn’t appear too thrilled the Denver Broncos traded Jerry Jeudy to the Cleveland Browns over the weekend. Perhaps his distaste for the move and Denver’s impending rebuild causes Sutton to be a trade candidate himself. Sutton likely would come cheaper than either Higgins or Aiyuk, which makes him a viable candidate despite the fact it would mean New England is banking on receiver depth rather than high-end WR1 talent. The 28-year-old finished the 2023 campaign with 59 catches on 90 targets for 772 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s set to become a free agent in 2026 with cap hits of $17 million each of the next two seasons.

The below candidates will be available on the open market.

Hunter Renfrow
Renfrow has been linked to the Patriots ever since he was snatching ankles at Clemson. And now the 2021 Pro Bowler will be released by the Las Vegas Raiders as a cap casualty, according to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport. While Renfrow doesn’t offer the same WR1 upside as Higgins or Aiyuk, unlike those two, the Patriots wouldn’t need to give up anything to land him. The 28-year-old caught 103 balls for 1,038 yards and nine touchdowns during that Pro Bowl campaign. He fell down the depth chart after Las Vegas acquired Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers, totaling 61 catches for 555 yards and two touchdowns in his last two seasons (27 games).

Story continues below advertisement

Mike Williams
The veteran receiver will hit the open market as a cap casualty, as confirmed by the Los Angeles Chargers on Wednesday. Williams didn’t make sense as a trade candidate given his finances and injury history. But now that he’s available, the Patriots could do much worse than landing the 29-year-old. Perhaps they could even add him on a team-friendly deal since he’s coming back from a torn ACL in September 2023.

Featured image via Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY Sports Images