If the Patriots still want to land an impact wide receiver, their free agency opportunities have dried up. They now have to explore the trade market.
It appears they may be doing just that, based on a new report by ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. He says to “expect [the Patriots] to continue to comb the market on wideouts, possibly via trade.” Fowler explained that the Patriots may be avoiding free agency at the position to avoid hurting their compensatory draft pick formula.
The Patriots passed on signing the most expensive free-agent wide receivers, and watched idly as the Raiders and Dolphins traded for Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill. Bill Belichick may be hitting the trade market, too, but for someone with more bang for the buck. Think Brandin Cooks in 2017.
To refresh your memory, the Patriots traded their 2017 first-round pick (No. 32) to the Saints for Cooks, who at the time was in the final year of his rookie deal. He cost the Pats only $1.5 million and caught 65 balls for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns, including a memorable game-winner from Tom Brady against the Texans. Another Cooks-type trade would be the best-case scenario, and the 2017 deal is proof that acquiring a young, cheap, established talent isn’t totally unrealistic.
But for the Pats to perfectly replicate the Cooks move, they’d have to trade for someone who was drafted in 2019.
That would sting.
The Patriots tried to land a true No. 1 receiver with pick No. 32 in the 2019 NFL Draft. Problem is, they used the pick on N’Keal Harry, who has 17-game averages of only 29 catches, 308 yards, and two touchdowns in 33 career games. Harry has one more year to figure it out in New England, but it’s possible that the Pats target someone else from his draft class via trade as something of a make-good.
So who could the Patriots land for a wide receiver at the end of an affordable contract? If they want an impact player, they’d likely have to replicate the 2017 Cooks trade.
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