New England Patriots

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - SEPTEMBER 27: Allen Lazard #13 is congratulated by Marquez Valdes-Scantling #83 of the Green Bay Packers after a 48-yard first down reception against the New Orleans Saints during the first half at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on September 27, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

  • Last year, the Patriots had a number of needs and plenty of cap space to address those needs in free agency. A year later, the team is in position to make more targeted signings, looking to round out the edges of the core assembled in 2021.

    One of those spots the Patriots could look to add is at wide receiver. It seems like a yearly occurrence at this point, but there’s been plenty of talk about New England adding both a No. 1 wideout and depth at the position.

    From everything that’s been made public, it appears the Patriots are busy working on such an addition or additions. They met with the majority of the top wide receivers in this year’s draft class last week at the NFL Combine, and have reportedly explored a trade for former 1,000-yard receiver Robby Anderson.

    Reports on Friday suggest they’re also doing their due diligence when it comes to this year’s free agent wide receivers as well. Both Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal and CLNS Media’s Evan Lazar have connected the Patriots to players who will be available when the NFL’s legal tampering window – the unofficial start of free agency – opens on Monday.

    The Patriots the Patriots have been talking to range from outside receivers to slot guy to gadget players, and from the top of the market to true value options.

  • Allen Robinson

    Nov 8, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson II (12) makes a catch in the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

    There have been multiple report connecting the Patriots to Robinson, who is one of the top pass catchers on the market this year. A former Pro Bowler and regular 1,000-yard receiver, the 28-year-old saw his production fall off last season in a Chicago Bears’ offense that was among the worst in the league. He went from 102 catches for 1,250 yards in 2020 (16 games) to 38 catches for 410 yards in 2021 (12 games).

    The Patriots reportedly considered signing Robinson last year before Chicago franchise tagged him. This time around, he could be a value signing if his down season hurts his overall market. If Robinson or another premier outside target is added the Patriots could “look to move Nelson Agholor” according to Lazar.

  • Allen Lazard

    Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard (13) pulls down a touchdown reception against Minnesota Vikings defensive back Kris Boyd (29) in the second quarter during their football game Sunday, January 2, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

    At 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, Lazard is another potential outside receiver target. He has gotten better each of his four years in the league, with the Patriots liking players who are trending up. Despite being a secondary option in the Packers’ offense last year, the 26-year-old former UDFA set career highs almost across the board with 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns.

    Unlike most of the players on this list who are unrestricted free agents, Lazard is restricted. If the Packers tender him a contract, they would have right of first refusal and a chance to match any deal offered to him in free agency, and the team signing him could potential could have to give up a draft pick if Green Bay elects not to match (similar to what happened between the Patriots and Steelers with Emmanuel Sanders in 2013).

  • Marquez Valdes-Scantling

    Nov 21, 2021; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling (83) in action against the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

    Another Packer, Valdez-Scantling is a big play machine. In four seasons in Green Bay, the 6-foot-4 wideout has averaged 17.5 yards per catch. However, he is coming off a down year in 2021 when he missed six games and finished with 26 receptions for 430 yards.

  • D.J. Chark

    CINCINNATI, OHIO – OCTOBER 04: DJ Chark Jr #17 of the Jacksonville Jaguars runs with the ball against at the Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brown Stadium on October 04, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

    Chark had a breakout year during the 2019 season, with 73 catches for 1,008 yards and eight touchdowns. The performance earned him his first and to this point only Pro Bowl nod. However, he’s fallen off (along with the rest of the Jacksonville offense) since and struggled to stay on the field. Between the 2020 and 2021 seasons he played just 17 total games recording 60 catches for 860 yards and seven touchdowns.

    At 6-foot-4, the 25-year-old former second-round pick has the size the Patriots may be looking to add to their offense, and does have top-level production on his resume. The question is what his injury history does to his value?

  • DaeSean Hamilton

    DENVER, CO – AUGUST 19: Wide receiver DaeSean Hamilton #17 of the Denver Broncos celebrates after a reception for a first down as free safety D.J. Reed #32 and linebacker Dre Greenlaw #57 of the San Francisco 49ers look on during the second quarter of a preseason game at Broncos Stadium at Mile High on August 19, 2019 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)

    A fourth-round pick in 2018, Hamilton was let go by the Broncos as a cap move following their acquisition of Russell Wilson earlier this week. A fourth-round pick in 2018, Hamilton is a ‘big slot’ receiver who wins with his route running ability. He missed the 2021 season with a torn ACL, and could be viewed as another ‘value’ signing.

    According to Daniels, the Patriots are “already showing interest” in the 27-year-old. Because he was released and isn’t coming off an expiring contract, the Patriots technically wouldn’t need to wait until Monday if they want to sign him.

  • Jakeem Grant

    Nov 21, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Jakeem Grant (17) runs with the ball during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

    Grant would be a fascinating fit for the Patriots. At 5-foot-7, 171 pounds he’s a fast and shifty slot receiver, but he can also line up in the backfield on passing downs. That type of gadget player is becoming more and more popular in the NFL, and Grant could be the Patriots’ chance to add that dynamic – as well as some serious speed – to their offense.

    On top of that, Grant has been an All-Pro returner for the last two years with experience fielding kickoffs and puts. The Patriots may need a player in that role with Gunner Olszewski a pending restricted free agent.