New England Patriots Rumors: 3 WR free agents that would unlock offense

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /
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New England Patriots
Christian Kirk #13 of the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

New England Patriots free agent target No. 2: Christian Kirk

Christian Kirk chose a good time to have his best season as a pro in 2021. He finished with 77 catches for 982 yards and five touchdowns, and he formed a pretty formidable duo with DeAndre Hopkins (that is when Hopkins was healthy). With some unrest taking place with the Arizona Cardinals currently, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them move on from the young wideout as they search for a better fit alongside Hopkins.

Now, saying Kirk isn’t a great fit alongside Hopkins and Cardinals QB Kyler Murray isn’t a diss on his skills. The Cards rely a lot on Murray’s ability to make big plays, primarily with Hopkins, and not getting the ball out quickly to a slot guy like Kirk. Kirk put up good numbers with Arizona, but he could probably do even better on a team that truly fits his skillset. The Patriots are that team.

Throughout New England’s history, there has almost always been a go-to slot receiver who could be relied upon to pick up a first down conversion on a 3rd & 6. Those were guys like Troy Brown, Wes Welker, and Julian Edelman. When Edelman retired, that left a big hole at slot wideout, and it wasn’t ever replaced. Kirk could end up being the perfect replacement.

Kirk’s ability to get open out of the slot isn’t something that has gone unnoticed. While he didn’t get a ton of looks on underneath routes in 2021, he established himself as a bigger downfield presence, and his fit is exactly what the Pats need. He can get open on short throws when needed, but he can also take the top off the defense when needed too.

Kirk is probably looking at a similar deal to what Gallup could get (2/3 years, around $10 million), although he could actually benefit from Gallup’s injury and have a bigger market for himself. Either way, that’s a deal worth making, as Kirk is a solid scheme fit whose ability to get open whenever needed could help unlock the offense’s full potential. He isn’t the flashiest name, but Kirk is one of the best pure fits in the New England Patriots scheme on the free agent market.