NFL free agency: Patriots will be just fine if Jakobi Meyers signs elsewhere

Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots catches a touchdown. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)
Jakobi Meyers #16 of the New England Patriots catches a touchdown. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images) /

I might be Jakobi Meyers’ first New England Patriots fan after he signed with the team as rookie free agent in 2019. I approved of the signing after viewing his highlights. And when Meyers started standing out during training camp, I declared him the favorite RFA to make the team, which he did.

Now that Meyers has reached free agency, I’m glad he’s finally gonna get paid. He truly earned it by leading the Patriots in receiving yards three years in a row. In 2022 he added leading New England in touchdowns as well.

And as arguably the best receiver in this year’s free agent class, Meyers is positioned to get the bag. I hope he gets one from the New England Patriots.

To a point.

If some team offers Jakobi Meyers market value, the New England Patriots should let him walk.

While Meyers was the Patriots most productive receiver over the past three seasons, there still is that desire for New England to get faster at the position. They’ve tried with Nelson Agholor, Tyquan Thornton, and DeVante Parker.

While the results came up short with all three, it shouldn’t deter the Patriots from adding similar talents to the roster. If that means replacing Meyers with a more athletic but unproven player, it’s worth a shot to make the offense more dynamic.

Meyers is solid and reliable, but he doesn’t stretch the field. Nor does Meyers scare defenses to the point he draws additional attention and creates opportunities for teammates. At most, Meyers might get doubled on third downs, but that’s it.

The reality is Meyers might be more valuable to the Patriots than he is to another team. There are very few teams where the slot receiver is the primary target. If Meyers goes elsewhere, he’s complimenting other receivers.

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And yes, I meant receivers. In another team’s offense, Meyers would be the third option, if not fourth behind a proven tight end.

Put it this way: Compare Meyers to the slot receivers during the Patriots dynasty. If you were to rank them, Meyers would be fourth after Julian Edelman, Wes Welker and Troy Brown.

If Meyers does leave New England, the Patriots have a few options to fill his absence, starting with Kendrick Bourne. Bourne was highly underutilized last season with Matt Patricia as the unofficial offensive coordinator. That could change now that Bill O’Brien returns as the O-coordinator and QBs coach.

Bourne could thrive in a slot role. He’s smart enough to read coverages and find openings in the defense. He’s also quicker, might be a better YAC threat, and should produce more explosive plays.

There are other options currently within the New England Patriots organization. Ty Montgomery was positioned to have a big year with the Patriots in a receiver/running back role, but he suffered a season-ending injury in the season opener. Montgomery certainly would had cut into Meyers’ targets if Montgomery stayed healthy.

Expect Marcus Jones’ role on offense to increase as he showed explosiveness on quick screens. There will be more plays to get the ball in Jones’ hands quickly next season.

Maybe Tre Nixon finally gets on the field or Kristan Wilkerson stays healthy and earns snaps. In his lone start with the Patriots, Wilkerson caught four passes for 42 yards and two touchdowns. New England would welcome more of that, to say the least.

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A sleeper on the roster is Lynn Bowden Jr. He’s a Montgomery-type of receiver/running back that produced plenty of highlights in college with Kentucky. His career didn’t pan out with the Miami Dolphins, but the Patriots might get Bowden’s talent to translate to the NFL.

Lastly, there’s always free agency, the trade market and the draft (Here’s one suggestion).

Being the loyal type, it would suck to see Meyers leave after the New England Patriots developed him. New England should treat him right with a long-term deal, but at their price. If Meyers settles for between $8-10 million, then he has a home here.

If Meyers can get $15 million a year somewhere else, then go right on ahead. I’ll wish Meyers luck, unless he goes to a divisional rival.

The Patriots have several options to replace Meyers, if not upgrade the production from the slot.