The New England Patriots made a bevy of trades this offseason. If they decide to make another one before the start of the 2022 regular season on September 11, they could deal away popular wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.
According to the Boston Herald’s Andrew Callahan, “Several teams expressed interest in trading for” the veteran wide receiver, but the talks didn’t progress to a point of completion.
Would the Chicago Bears have interest in Bourne, or could his old team, the San Francisco 49ers be interested in a reunion?
Why Are Teams Trying to Acquire Kendrick Bourne?
Bourne turned 27 on August 4. Based on his production in 2021, which saw him set career-highs in receptions (55) and receiving yards (800), and his age, Bourne is in the prime of his NFL journey.
He’s also on a team-friendly contract as he enters the second season of a three-year, $15 million deal. Bourne is set to earn a base salary of $3,500,000, a roster bonus of $750,000 and a incentive bonus of $750,000, while carrying a cap hit of $6,416,666 and a dead cap value of $2,833,334, per Spotrac.
Most NFL teams would love to have a productive receiver like Bourne on their roster for that price. When you add in his jovial demeanor and energy, Bourne has seemingly become a coveted player amongst WR-hungry teams.
That said, Bourne has struggled a bit with the Patriots’ new offense since the exit of former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He was thrown out of a joint practice with the Carolina Panthers for fighting and also drew the ire of Bill Belichick when he had an equipment violation that caused an official in the scrimmage to ask him to leave the field.
The Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard said Bourne “has completely lost his confidence, and you wonder if these coaches know how to give it back to him.”
Those issues may have been noticed by other teams who have then decided to poke around to gauge Bourne’s availability.
Why the Patriots Might Trade Kendrick Bourne
If the Patriots’ coaching staff sees a lack of buy-in, commitment, or fit for their new scheme, Belichick could elect to move Bourne. Based on his level of interest, New England could potentially pick up some valuable draft assets.
Also, and perhaps most importantly, the Patriots could give themselves a little financial wiggle room if they can find a taker willing and able to absorb Bourne’s contract.
Jason Fitzgerald of Over the Cap included the Patriots on a list of NFL teams that will “need to create cap space by next Tuesday.”
Why the Patriots Would Hold On to Kendrick Bourne
The Patriots’ need to create cap space is real, so some moves should be expected. However, there are reasons to believe a Bourne trade is unlikely.
New England and, specifically, Belichick seem to love Bourne. His infectious attitude in 2021 was one of the season’s bright spots. The growing pains associated with the transition on offense appear to frustrate several players. Still, barring a complete shutdown or rebellion, it’s hard to believe Bourne could ruin all of the goodwill he created last season.
Also, the Patriots aren’t deep at WR. Kristian Wilkerson was placed on injured reserve with a concussion. The team cut Tre Nixon, Lil’Jordan Humphrey, and Josh Hammond and has only Jakobi Meyers, DeVante Parker, Bourne, and Nelson Agholor as receivers on the depth chart, according to Ourlads (Matthew Slater is listed, but he plays special teams exclusively).
It’s possible the Patriots could sign a waiver-wire player and/or add Nixon or Humphrey to the practice squad with designs on elevating them during the season. Still, it’s tough to imagine New England dealing away one of the few proven performers on the offense and, even more, one from this position group.