Patriots' 3 Biggest Priorities to Start the Offseason

Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37) celebrates
Dec 24, 2023; Denver, Colorado, USA; New England Patriots place kicker Chad Ryland (37) celebrates / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Wide Receiver

Last season, the entire New England Patriots wide receiving corps combined for 175 receptions, 1,909 yards and five touchdowns. The wide receiver room was a hodgepodge of over-the-hill receivers such as JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker or draft busts such as Jalen Reagor and Tyquan Thornton.

Kendrick Bourne was undeniably the team's best receiver until he suffered a season-ending torn ACL in New England's Week 8 loss in Miami. Bourne is a pending free agent and has expressed interest in returning to the Patriots, but with the wideout coming off of a significant injury and his contract expiring, there are no guarantees for 2024.

Marquee offseason signing JuJu Smith-Schuster flopped in his first season in Foxborough, only catching 29 passes for 260 yards and one touchdown while missing six games. He earned $4.67 million for each touchdown.

Rookie sixth-round pick DeMario Douglas broke out as a rare bright spot on the New England offense, hauling in 49 passes for 561 yards. It's not a slight to Douglas, but if your best receiver is a 5'8" rookie sixth-rounder out of Liberty, then you have a lot of work to do improving that unit.

A hypothetical blockbuster for Justin Jefferson would be a pipe dream, but the Patriots should also be keeping an eye on the likes of Tee Higgins, Michael Pittman Jr. and Calvin Ridley in free agency. Perhaps new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt and improved quarterback play could help elevate the production from the wide receivers, but they would be foolhardy to hinge their hopes on those two factors rather than bringing in outside talent.

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