New England Patriots

New England Patriots

If the New England Patriots are in the market for a new No. 1 receiver, they may have to wait for someone unexpected to become a free agent.

The team is pretty stacked with No. 2 or 3 receivers, to be certain. Kendrick Bourne, DeVante Parker, and Tyquan Thornton are a pretty good trio under contract for 2023, and Thornton still has a chance to emerge as a game-breaking threat. But to go forward with this as your main group would be a big gamble, especially leaving the Patriots without a bread-and-butter slot receiver if they lose Jakobi Meyers to free agency.

But what if another, more dynamic slot receiver suddenly hit the open market? It’s possible the Pats have an avenue to make an upgrade over Meyers in the slot via free agency – he’s just not available yet. But he could be soon.


  • Sports Hub Patriots Podcast | Offseason Plans

    (Click here to subscribe to Patriots Audio on 98.5 The Sports Hub.)

  • We’re talking about Chargers slot man Keenan Allen, who has long established himself as arguably the most consistent, dynamic inside receiver in football. Over the past six seasons, Allen has posted a 17-game average of 111 catches, 1,289 yards, and seven touchdowns.

    Allen is about the same size as Meyers (6-foot-2, 211 pounds), but he’s always been known as one of the best separators and route-runners in the NFL, certainly among slot receivers. So why are we even talking about Allen right now, if he’s not on track to become a free agent?

    Well, he might become one soon. As detailed in The Athletic by Daniel Popper, the Chargers are going to have to start cutting players and/or restructuring contracts to be able to fit under the cap cash budget for 2023. Allen is due a base salary of $15.5 million and would save the Chargers a whopping $14.8 million against the cap if cut before June 1.

  • FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 29: Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers catches a pass as he is defended by Johnson Bademosi #29 of the New England Patriots during the third quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

    FOXBORO, MA – OCTOBER 29: Keenan Allen #13 of the Los Angeles Chargers catches a pass as he is defended by Johnson Bademosi #29 of the New England Patriots during the third quarter of a game at Gillette Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

  • Allen just turned 30 and is coming off a season in which he played only 10 games due to a hamstring injury, but he did play the final nine games of the regular season and the Wild Card round against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Allen had a couple of years early in his career where he may have built a reputation of being injury prone (just eight games played from 2015-16), but he played a full 16-game season four times in the last six.

    He’s as tough as they come and still one of the best slot men in the league, and it would be shocking if the Patriots didn’t once again emphasize that position under new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien. Allen may not be a long-term solution, and it’s quite possible he can only get a one-year deal on the open market. But if the Pats bring him in for a season and draft another guy in what’s considered a deep draft class for slot receivers? They might be in pretty good shape right there.

    If the Pats want to aim even higher to get a bona fide No. 1 receiver, and someone who plays more on the outside and can make big plays down the field on a consistent basis? They’ll have to give up much more, in terms of both money and/or trade capital. The Bengals’ Tee Higgins could become available. What about one of Mac Jones’ former Alabama teammates, like Jerry Jeudy?

  • FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS - DECEMBER 24: Tee Higgins #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass over Marcus Jones #25 of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images)

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 24: Tee Higgins #85 of the Cincinnati Bengals catches a pass over Marcus Jones #25 of the New England Patriots during the second half at Gillette Stadium on December 24, 2022 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. (Photo by Nick Grace/Getty Images)

  • The Patriots very well could basically stand pat at wide receiver, which would be the case if their “big” move is re-signing Meyers. That would be putting a lot of faith in Mac Jones and O’Brien to transform the offense, and in the offensive line to vastly improve with an infusion of talent and projected new O-line coach Adrian Klemm. This group would be enough for a guy like Patrick Mahomes, but is it enough for Jones?

    It’s a fair question. And it’s fair for the Patriots to ask themselves if they want to do something big at receiver, which, to be frank, all the top Super Bowl-contending teams have done in recent years.

    Allen would be another strong option, and one that feels like an excellent fit for Foxboro.

  • Click here for complete New England Patriots coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

    Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. Check out all of Matt’s content here.

Sign me up for the 98.5 The Sports Hub email newsletter!

Get the latest Boston sports news and analysis, plus exclusive on-demand content and special giveaways from Boston's Home for Sports, 98.5 The Sports Hub.

*
*
By clicking "Subscribe" I agree to the website's terms of Service and Privacy Policy. I understand I can unsubscribe at any time.