The New England Patriots’ wide receiver situation is an interesting one.
The team traded to acquire DeVante Parker from the Miami Dolphins this offseason, with designs on him becoming the kind of downfield threat and 50/50 target they hoped N’Keal Harry would’ve become during his three-year stay with the team.
Parker showed flashes during training camp but left many wanting more with his performance in the team’s final preseason game against the Las Vegas Raiders.
New England drafted Tyquan Thornton in the second round, a decision many called a stretch. The Baylor product wound up showing in training camp the elite speed the Patriots coveted. However, he suffered a fractured clavicle during training camp and is likely on the shelf until November.
Kendrick Bourne had a breakout season for the Patriots in his first year with New England in 2021, but he struggled during training camp and the preseason. There was talk of a demotion, and his name has been constant in trade speculation.
The steadiest and seemingly most secure wide receiver on the roster is Jakobi Meyers. He’s led the Patriots in receiving the last two seasons, and no one would be surprised if he made it a three-peat in 2022.
The Patriots also have veteran Nelson Agholor. He was signed as a free agent last offseason to a two-year, $22 million deal. However, Agholor fell short of making the impact the team hoped for when they paid him the handsome deal, managing just 37 receptions for 473 yards and three TDs in 2021. There are reasons to believe he’ll bounce back, but perhaps there are more reasons to imagine him being traded or even released.
Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus predicted that would be the fate awaiting Agholor.
“A source close to the situation expects one of the Patriots’ veteran wide receivers to be traded or released, and that source believes Agholor is the prime candidate,” Kyed wrote on August 11. “Agholor counts for $14.9 million against the salary cap this season. New England would save $9.9 million by trading him and $4.9 million by cutting him. The cap-strapped Patriots could save money by cutting or trading their other veteran receivers, as well. Doing so with DeVante Parker would save $6.1 million, with Bourne would save $5 million and with Meyers would save $4 million.”
Even with Bourne’s struggles, trading him seems a bit more unlikely because his contract (three years, $15 million) is more of a bargain. Trading Meyers might make Mac Jones panic since the former has become the latter’s security blanket. Every quarterback needs one, and Meyers has proven capable. That and Agholor’s expiring deal would seemingly make him the best candidate.
Patriots’ Nelson Agholor Could Become Team’s No. 1 WR
On the flip side, one scenario could see Agholor become Jones’ top target. The Patriots signed Agholor in 2021 because of his big-play ability. In 2020, Agholor averaged 18.7 yards per reception with the Raiders.
If Agholor can start the season fast and make himself a dangerous option downfield, trading him could become a bad idea considering his presence on the field could create a factor that opposing defenses would have to game-plan to stop.
Which Patriots WR is the Best Fantasy Football Option?
Meyers is the best and most dependable fantasy option. Meyers averaged 7.4 targets and 4.88 receptions per game in 2021. Throughout Meyers’ three years in the NFL, he has seen an increase in receptions and receiving yards, and he had his first two TDs in 2021.
While Meyers is a safe pick, fantasy owners shouldn’t sleep on Agholor. He’s in a contract season and has a ton to prove after a poor season with the Patriots last season. Look for Jones to try to connect with Agholor on a deep route at some time in Week 1. If the attempt is successful, Agholor’s overall value will increase.