Patriots Rumors: No. 1 receiver key, but not first order of business

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 07: JuJu Smith-Schuster #9 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - JANUARY 07: JuJu Smith-Schuster #9 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball at Allegiant Stadium on January 07, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

For certain, the New England Patriots need to augment their wide receiver position in the upcoming offseason. They were deficient there in 2022 and the status of their best receiver, free agent to be Jakobi Meyers is totally up the air for some strange reason.

Yet, the number one offseason priority is not a wide receiver, first and foremost the team needs to rebuild its offensive line strength. Then and only then should they turn their attention to the clearly deficient wide receiver position.

The offensive line is the key to the entire team’s success including in the passing game first and foremost. If your team doesn’t have the prerequisites, a top quarterback (and we’re not quite sure about that at the New England Patriots at present), and a top offensive line, having even five top receivers won’t work.

Addressing the O-line in free agency where a starting right tackle would be just fine and adding a top offensive left tackle in the first round, or at least with their first pick of the 2023 NFL draft, is an absolute necessity prior to any other moves.

Then and only then should the team go for the gusto and get a true number one receiver.  So how should they address that deficiency?

New England Patriots need a true No. 1 receiver

Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald acknowledged the deficiencies at offensive tackle and then cites trade as a good way to go get a top wide receiver. That’s certainly one of the top two ways they should address the problem.

Here’s part of what he says,

"The Patriots’ offensive line needs a makeover at both tackle positions, while the interior remains strong …To elevate their offense among the league’s elite, the Pats may need to break precedent again by acquiring a No. 1 receiver and paying him market value … The problem? Zero No. 1 receivers are scheduled to hit free agency."

That may be true, but JuJu Smith-Schuster is a free agent and a very good receiver. He’s still young at 26 years old, and was productive with the Chiefs this season. Smith-Schuster caught 78 for 933 yards and three TDs.

He’s a good option that won’t cost in a trade and he ticks off a lot of boxes. That notwithstanding, Callahan cites the following receivers as possible trade targets. He specifies DeAndre Hopkins of the Cardinals, the Bengals’ Tee Higgins, and the following,

"Other potential trade candidates to watch, due to contractual circumstances: Denver’s Jerry Jeudy (potential fifth-year option in 2024), Arizona’s Robbie Anderson, Cincinnati’s Tyler Boyd and the Jets’ Corey Davis."

Any of the aforementioned would be potential additions. Jeudy who played at Alabama and would be familiar with Mac Jones may be a solid option. He caught 62 passes for 6 TDs and 972 yards this season. But one way the Patriots should not go to fill the position is high in the draft.

New England Patriots should not draft a wide receiver high

The New England Patriots should absolutely not draft a wide receiver in any of the top three or maybe even four rounds. As noted, both free agency and trade are better options.

The reason is evident, this team has no idea how to draft wide receivers. The latest venture was to reach way up in the 2022 draft (a round or two higher than necessary) to draft Tyquan Thornton. Some liked the reach but it was a mistake.

The jury is still out on the young Thornton, but he didn’t exactly move the Richter scale in his rookie season. Thornton underwhelmed with only 22 catches for 247 yards and two touchdowns.

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That’s not exactly what you’d want to see from a second-round pick when you had a gaping hole in the receiving corps for a game-breaking number one. The need remains.

Unfortunately, the Patriots can’t draft wide receivers at all and they should forget one early in the draft. Sign a free agent, there are actually several good options or trade for one. These are the best and frankly the safest ways to go on that position for this hapless personnel operation.

The wide receiver situation has to be addressed but subordinated to the needs for offensive tackle and interior line depth, as well as defensive line help.

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Those are the positions the team needs to address high in the draft. Wide receivers should be the target of either trades or free agency. Get a player or two (depending on whether they inexplicably don’t re-sign Meyers), in one of these two ways and forget about drafting one high.

That’s the view from here. How do you feel the New England Patriots should address the wide receiver position and who should it be? We’d like to hear your views.