AFC East Rival Free Agent WR Called Option for Patriots

Isaiah McKenzie Bills

Getty Buffalo Bills WR Isaiah McKenzie.

It’s no secret, the New England Patriots badly need an injection of speed on both sides of the ball. To put it plainly, the team needs playmakers and the primary athletic skill those guys have is speed.

On offense, the Patriots are lacking the kind of player who threatens to take it to the house with every touch. It would be great if New England were to prioritize adding a player like this as a weapon for Mac Jones in his second year as the team’s quarterback.

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Zack Cox of NESN called out Buffalo Bills slot receiver and Patriots killer Isaiah McKenzie as an option for New England in 2022.

Snagging a Rival’s Free-Agent Weapon?

We’ve heard of the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them,” but how about “If you beat them, join them anyway?”

That’s what Cox is proposing as he points the Patriots to a receiver who has feasted on New England during his brief NFL career.

McKenzie hasn’t been much of an offensive threat in his NFL career — unless he’s playing the Patriots. The speedy slot receiver gave New England fits in each of the final two Pats-Bills matchups this season, including an 11-catch, 125-yard, one-touchdown breakout in Week 16. McKenzie also has extensive kick and punt return experience, though Bills coach Sean McDermott didn’t trust him to handle the latter in unfavorable weather conditions.

Belichick has gone after players who have given his teams fits in the past. Cam Newton was signed ahead of each of the last two offseasons after being a thorn in Belichick’s side during his career.

Belichick also took a liking to players like Hunter Henry, whom he signed this past offseason, and the Carolina Panthers’ Robby Anderson told the media “The Hoodie” tried to recruit him to sign with New England in 2020.

Ahead of the Patriots and Bills’ second regular season meeting in 2021, Belichick had nothing but glowing things to say about McKenzie–who was filling in for the injured Cole Beasley.

Per Pats Pulpit’s Ryan Spagnoli, Belichick called McKenzie an “explosive player, home-run guy in the return game and offensively…Versatile player, catch the ball, use him in the backfield so we’ll have to do a great job on him.”

Quite honestly, with the lack of production the Patriots got from Gunner Olszewski as a return man and a receiver in 2021, it would appear New England might have an opportunity for a player like McKenzie.

From his cryptic tweet the morning after Buffalo’s AFC Divisional loss to Kansas City, it seems McKenzie believes there is a good chance he’s not coming back to Buffalo.

McKenzie’s Going Rate

The Patriots ought to be able to secure McKenzie’s services with a reasonable offer. After all, he only had 20 receptions on the season and 14 of them came against the Patriots.

If McKenzie gets a two-year, $3.5 million deal, he would be receiving a $600,000 increase from his previous average annual salary. During the 2021 offseason, McKenzie signed a one-year deal for $1.15 million.

A two-year, $3.5 million contract would be an average of $1.75 million. That’s a logical advancement for a player who might be ready to pop as a returner/slot guy in New England.

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