According to Joe McNeely, the Patriots are looking to make moves for a ‘premier’ wide receiver. It is believed that they will be aggressive in the trade market and have already been in talks with multiple teams and have made offers that include veteran players and/or draft capital.
These reports might mean that the Patriots do not expect Josh Gordon to be a part of the offense moving forward. Gordon is a restricted free agent but he is still currently suspended from the league and it is unclear when he is set to return. Josh Gordon was the first true no.1 receiver the Patriots have had since Randy Moss but he was only available for 11 games last season. In those 11 games, he was a huge addition to the offense. It is fair to assume that Belichick saw the impact that Gordon had on the offense last year and is looking for a player who can do much of the same.
Source reiterated the following to me tonight following day three of the NFL Combine:#Patriots are still in pursuit of a premier WR and are expected to "be aggressive" in the trade market to acquire one.
— Joe McNeely (@TheJoeyMcNeely) March 4, 2019
So who could be the next premier wide receiver in New England? I do not believe it will be Antonio Brown or Odell Beckham Jr. Both of those guys are outside receivers who rely on a lot of targets and also have personal agendas that sometimes trump their team’s goals. Belichick will probably look for a guy who he knows will buy in and already fits in the system they have in place.
One name that I think would be an ideal fit in New England is Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers. Williams had a breakout year this year after an unimpressive rookie season. He recorded 43 total catches last season and 10 of those were touchdown receptions. He only started five games for them this year but played in all 16 because I believe the Chargers are struggling to find space for him in the offense with Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams. He is a player who is being underutilized in his current system and will only be entering his third year of a four year rookie contract so they will not have issues taking on his current deal.
It is evident that having a true no.1 receiver gives New England the perfect balance on offense. They have an effective running game, they have a tight end who can catch and block, and they have multiple receivers who are versatile but do not have the ability to be Brady’s number one target week in and week out.
In the first four weeks of Josh Gordon’s arrival, New England averaged 39.25 points per game, simply because they could open up the playbook more on offense. Getting a premier receiver is not necessarily about getting a player who can carry the workload on offense for this team, it is about keeping opposing defenses honest and having options on offense. Hopefully, they can find someone who can fill that role.