The New England Patriots need help at the wide receiver position. That fact really isn’t up for debate, as Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson are all hitting free agency on March 13th. With Julian Edelman and Braxton Berrios as the only notable receivers on the roster and players like Adam Humphries and Golden Tate reportedly wanting upwards of $10 million per year, the Patriots may need to make a trade in order to solidify the wide receiver position.
The Big Names
The Patriots have been linked to big-name wide receivers like Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown, but a more realistic option is Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green. Green has been one of the best receivers in the NFL ever since entering the league. Since 2011, Green ranks fifth in receptions (602), fourth in yards (8,907), and sixth in touchdowns (63). Green is entering the final year of his contract and would carry a $12.1 million cap hit if traded, a relative bargain for a player of his caliber.
The biggest obstacle standing in the way is that Cincinnati has no reason to trade away their talented wide receiver. Even though he’s battled foot injuries over the last few years, Green remains one of the best players at his position. Cincinnati doesn’t have much in terms of skill position talent, and new offensive-minded head coach Zac Taylor probably wants to build an offense around Green’s game-breaking ability. If a half season of Golden Tate fetched a third-round pick at last years’ trade deadline, it’s safe to assume Green would cost at least a mid-second-round pick. That’s a steep price to pay for only one guaranteed year of production.
Bill Belichick has a history with wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. Back in 2013, the Patriots tried to steal Sanders away from the Pittsburgh Steelers as a restricted free agent. Unfortunately for New England, Pittsburgh matched that offer. New England couldn’t land the talented wideout in 2014’s free agency and he hasn’t tested the open market since. Sanders is one of the better receivers in the game and his route running prowess would be a natural fit in New England.
Just like with Green, the biggest obstacle is the cost. Sanders suffered an Achilles injury late in the 2018 season and is no guarantee to be ready for the start of the season. The wide receiver carries a $12.9 million cap hit in 2019, but Denver could have released him with just a $2.67 million dead cap hit. Instead, general manager John Elway opted to keep the injured Sanders. Denver clearly has big plans for him, and the price to acquire an injured wide receiver with a big cap hit is probably too high for New England’s liking.
Green and Sanders are the two biggest names entering their contract season, but trading for either would require New England to shell out serious draft compensation. The Patriots are no strangers to buying low on high-level talent, and they could do the same thing in the 2019 off-season.
We already covered a potential John Ross trade in an earlier article, but the speedster offers the largest upside of any low-cost receiver on the trade block. Ross battled injury and inconsistency ever since entering the league, but the former ninth-overall pick is one of the fastest players in the league and has flashed his ability at the NFL level. He’s anything but a given, but Ross offers significant upside at a bargain rate of just over $2 million.
Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Laquon Treadwell has not lived up to expectations during his time in the NFL. Since entering the league in 2016, Treadwell has recorded just 56 receptions for 517 yards and one touchdown. The Vikings thought they were getting a game changer when they made Treadwell their 23rd overall pick, but he’s been nothing more than a role player.
Treadwell is a reclamation project, and Belichick has made a career off taking in reclamation projects and turning them into valuable parts of the offense. As a former first-rounder, Treadwell offers quite a bit of athletic upside and is due only $1.8 million if traded. A late-round pick swap would likely be enough to get a trade done.
The New England Patriots are very familiar with what DeVante Parker brings to the table. Since entering the league with the Miami Dolphins back in 2015, Parker has recorded a respectable 163 receptions for 2,217 yards and nine touchdowns. He’s had success against New England, recording 24 receptions for 320 yards and one touchdown in seven games.
Parker, a former first-round pick, has a considerable amount of athletic upside and a decent amount of production to match. However, it sounds like Parker is starting to wear out his welcome in Miami. Parker and former head coach Adam Gase were openly at odds throughout the 2018 season, and new head coach Brian Flores might not want to deal with that headache. Trading Parker frees up $9.3 million in cap space, and the Patriots obviously have a connection to Flores and the majority of the Dolphins’ coaching staff. Just like Ross and Treadwell, this move wouldn’t provide an immediate fix to New England’s wide receiver woes. However, it would provide serviceable depth at a tolerable cost.
Embed from Getty Images
View the original article on Last Word On Pro Football: New England Patriots Wide Receiver Trade Targets