New England Patriots fans received a gut punch on Sunday when it was reported that star wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins is joining the Tennessee Titans on a two-year, $26 million deal.
Hopkins had been New England’s top free-agent target this offseason, and hopes were high that he would land with the Patriots. Now Bill Belichick must pivot if he still wants to add a major weapon to the offense. And that’s something that’s going to be important. As Isaiah De Los Santos pointed out, Mac Jones needs some help if he’s going to finally exceed expectations in 2023.
With many of the top free agents like Odell Beckham Jr. already off the board, there aren’t too many wideouts available with preseason right around the corner. That said, there are still a few remaining veterans that could make sense for New England.
Here are three wide receivers the New England Patriots should target after missing out on DeAndre Hopkins in NFL free agency.
1. Kenny Golladay
It’s been a rough couple of years for Golladay, who was released by the New York Giants earlier this offseason and is still searching for a new team. He was a virtual non-factor for the Giants last season, starting just four games and finishing with only 6 catches on 17 targets for 81 yards.
Perhaps the former Pro Bowler would do better with a change of scenery and a head coach like Belichick to motivate him. He’s still just 29 years old and is only a few years removed from being one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, so he could be worth taking a shot on. Golladay has plenty to prove and would be a big-bodied target for Mac Jones with his 6-foot-4 frame.
With 16.2 yards per reception in his career, Golladay is also capable of providing the big-play element that New England’s offense has been sorely missing in recent years. He could be a good fit on a one-year, incentive-laden deal that the Pats could easily move on from if he doesn’t pan out.
2. Sammy Watkins
After playing for five teams in his nine-year career, Watkins is the definition of a journeyman receiver. He can still be effective in the right offense, though, as he showed last year by averaging a career-best 20.3 yards per catch while splitting time between the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers.
The 30-year-old speedster is unlikely to fulfill the potential he flashed earlier in his career, but he can still be a useful weapon with his wheels and ability to stretch the field as a deep threat. That could help open things up for New England’s offense and give Jones someone to target downfield.
Watkins has played with Aaron Rodgers, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, so he could even be a good source of intel on some of the Patriots’ top rivals, too.
3. Jarvis Landry
Landry made five straight Pro Bowls from 2015-2019 but has seen his stock fall in recent years, especially last season when he started only three games for the New Orleans Saints due to an ankle injury. The hope is that after a full offseason to heal, Landry will be healthy and ready to go for 2023.
That makes this a good buy-low opportunity for New England with Landry coming off the worst season of his career. He was still effective when healthy last year, averaging 10.9 yards per reception and a 64.1% catch rate — both of which were roughly in line with his career averages. Landry’s only 30, too, so he may not be over the hill just yet.
As a slot receiver, Landry could also flourish in the Patriots’ offense. Jones has been more effective on short, quick throws and would likely build a quick rapport with a reliable ball-catcher like Landry.