The Patriots have made significant and necessary additions on offense this offseason. The most significant of these was adding offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Bill O’Brien and offensive line coach Adrian Klemm to a staff that lacked experience, and consequently the faith of its players. New England also brought in YAC specialist JuJu Smith-Schuster and athletic mismatch Mike Gesicki, adding big-play ability after deciding to move on from Jonnu Smith via trade and free agent Jakobi Meyers. But fans and media are understandably pining for a difference-making #1 receiver who can take the offense from good to great. And with this year’s free agent class lacking anyone with such a skill set or track record, it became obvious the Patriots needed to get creative to fill that void.
Here are some wide receivers the Patriots have been tied to and what they could bring if acquired.
If the Patriots have to give up draft compensation for a receiver, Jeudy would be the best investment. The Broncos have no incentive to trade him before the draft and are reportedly asking for a 1st round pick or a 2nd rounder plus a player. New England is clearly hesitant to give up that much capital given they haven’t pulled the trigger, but Jeudy would be under contract for two years and fetch a nice compensatory pick if the team moved on in 2025.
Jeudy would bring explosiveness and separation ability the Patriots lack outside of Tyquan Thornton, who is still unproven. Jeudy’s patient, calculated route-running allows him to succeed in any alignment, though he’d likely be a “Z” or slot for New England to provide optimal space to work and clean releases. Jeudy has struggled with drops in his career, but his rare blend of speed and contact balance makes up for the occasional concentration lapse.
Awesome mid-route adjustment from Jeudy (bottom) giving the corner an inside fake for extra separation. Tracks the ball perfectly pic.twitter.com/z8VjZFEE8v
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) March 16, 2023
With the Broncos having all the leverage, it’s no guarantee that Jeudy is actually traded. And if he is, it would likely be later than sooner to maximize their potential compensation. While a 1st round pick might be rich in a class with plenty of talented off-ball receivers, acquiring Jeudy could help take the Patriots’ offense to another level if the price is right.
Though rumors are swirling that Hopkins could be eyeing the Buffalo Bills as a trade destination, he does not have the final say in where the Cardinals send him, and former player Adam “Pacman” Jones mentioned New England is still a name to watch Thursday on the Pat McAfee Show.
There are potential concerns tied to acquiring Hopkins, for whom the Cardinals reportedly want a 2nd-rounder plus a player or additional draft pick. Though that price may be more flexible with Brandin Cooks being dealt to Dallas last weekend for a 2023 5th-round pick and a 2024 6th-rounder. Beyond compensation, Hopkins turns 31 years old this June, doesn’t possess the explosiveness he once did, and is likely more of a short-intermediate target at this stage of his career.
That said, the future Hall of Famer managed to be productive in 2022 despite missing six games due to suspension and losing Kyler Murray to a season-ending injury against the Patriots. Hopkins and Bill Belichick also have a lot of mutual respect for one another.
Was Bill Belichick laying the groundwork for DeAndre Hopkins to end up with the #Patriots? ?
— Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) December 14, 2022
If the Patriots were to acquire Hopkins, he would likely either take over for DeVante Parker or become the team’s featured “Z” receiver, likely over Thornton. His size, physical play style, and historic hands ensure the receiver is open even when blanketed. These skills would make him a valuable chain-mover and Red Zone target, both roles dominated by Jakobi Meyers last season. Hopkins is also still enough of a threat that he draws double coverage in certain situations.
The Patriots played very little man vs the Cardinals last season
But anytime they used it in the RZ, DeAndre Hopkins was bracketed pic.twitter.com/NJjPnbjU3Y
— Taylor Kyles (@tkyles39) March 23, 2023
The Patriots currently have an abundance of possession receivers in Parker, Hunter Henry, and Mike Gesicki, so Hopkins’ skill set may be redundant in New England’s receiving corps. But Hopkins would still bring credentials the group lacks as an established #1 receiver, and he proved as early as last season he can still be highly productive.
ODELL BECKHAM JR.
Beckham is attempting an NFL comeback after suffering an ACL injury in Super Bowl LVI and missing all of the 2022 season. The Patriots became a team to watch in the OBJ sweepstakes when it was reported they were among the teams attending the receiver’s private workout two weeks ago
WR Odell Beckham Jr. looks healthy and ready to go.
Wondering if this could be the #Patriots next move…
(?: @obj) pic.twitter.com/BcT3T2jtlD
— Mike Kadlick (@mikekadlick) March 15, 2023
Like Hopkins, Beckham is no longer the specimen who made annual regular trips to the Pro Bowl. Talks have also reportedly ramped up between Beckham and the Jets, who are almost guaranteed to be landing Aaron Rodgers. With that said, OBJ is still one of the league’s smartest route runners, has a massive catch radius, and wouldn’t cost New England any draft capital if there were serious mutual interest.
The odds on this acquisition seem especially low but it’s never wise to count out Bill Belichick.