Patriots Could Take ‘Lucrative Swing’ at No. 1 WR If Made Available

Bill Belichick Patriots

Getty The New England Patriots could make a run at Calvin Ridley.

The New England Patriots could target a new go-to wide receiver in the offseason.

While the Patriots will prepare for their first postseason berth without Tom Brady since the 1998 season, New England is still missing one key ingredient — a true No. 1 receiver.

The Patriots have a nice trio of receivers in Kendrick Bourne, Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor. But neither player is ever going to single-handedly dominate a game. All three players succeed within the confines of New England’s offense.

Considering Bill Belichick’s struggles with drafting receivers — see N’Keal Harry — it makes more sense for New England to target an established receiver in the offseason. According to CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin, the Patriots are a possible landing spot for Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley.

“No one loves a big-name castoff quite like Bill Belichick, who spent big in 2020 to rebuild the WR spot and also has an affinity for Alabama products,” says Benjamin. “Now that Mac Jones has proven he belongs at QB, New England could justify a more lucrative swing, with $19M in projected cap space.”

Ridley appeared in just five games for the Falcons during the 2021 season and played his last game back in October. The 27-year-old receiver stepped away for mental health reasons.

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Ridley Could Seek ‘Fresh Start’ Elsewhere

NFL Media’s Steve Wyche speculated on Tuesday, January 4 on 92.9 The Game in Atlanta that Ridley “could be looking for a fresh start” in 2022.

Ridley still has one year left on his rookie deal — already exercised — at $11.1 million for the 2022 season. If Wyche’s comments hold merit, the Patriots could realistically acquire Ridley for a draft pick.

The four-year veteran posted a breakout 2020 campaign when he put up 90 receptions for 1,374 receiving yards and nine touchdowns. Ridley ranked in the top 10 in both receiving yards and touchdowns last season, nagging a Second-Team All-Pro selection in the process.

Ridley’s 84.9 offensive grade (according to Pro Football Focus) ranked 11th among all starting receivers last season.

If Ridley becomes available, there will be plenty of suitors — considering his age and expiring contract — but the Patriots are definitely a possible landing spot.

McDaniels a Favorite for the Texans Job?

Could Josh McDaniels jump ship before Belichick calls it a career?

For years, McDaniels has been presumed as the favorite to replace Belichick as the head coach of the Patriots once he retires. After all, the 45-year-old has been a member of the New England organization for 18 of the past 21 seasons.

However, other NFL teams covet McDaniels as a potential head coaching candidate. According to Aaron Wilson of Sports Illustrated, McDaniels could emerge as a candidate for the Houston Texans’ head coaching job if they move on from David Culley.

“According to a league source, if Houston fires Culley then New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could emerge as a top potential candidate to be the team’s next head coach,” said Wilson. “McDaniels, if he decides to leave New England, could be a strong head coaching candidate for multiple potential vacancies based on his track record and his success developing Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones.”

The Texans concluded the 2021 season with a 4-13 record. Houston is clearly in a rebuilding phase and it’s hard to believe that McDaniels would risk losing out on the Patriots’ head coaching job for the Texans’ vacancy.

We’ll see how this offseason plays out when it comes to McDaniels’ coaching future.

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