Patriots Predicted to Cut Ties With ‘Burner’ 2nd-Round Pick Before 2024 Season

Patriots WR Tyquan Thornton

Getty Patriots WR Tyquan Thornton

There’s no doubt that the Patriots, heading into the 2024 NFL offseason, needed an upgrade in the wide receiver’s room. The offense was a mess just about everywhere, from the quarterbacks to the offensive line and the running backs. But, especially after the season-ending ACL injury to Kendrick Bourne, the Patriots’ pass-catchers were limited to promising rookie Pop Douglas and little else.

But while the Patriots did not get the big fish they were hoping to land—Calvin Ridley, who ultimately went to the Titans—they do have a number of promising young newcomers that will change the complexion of the receiving corps. Second-round pick Ja’Lynn Polk leads the way, and fourth-rounder Javon Baker has already made his mark on the team with his swagger, if not (yet) with his on-field performance.

KJ Osborn, formerly of the Vikings, should pitch in, too. The Pats are still lacking a clear No. 1 option at receiver, but they’ve got a wealth of young guys with potential.

But that means some of the older guys are going to have to go. And one of the tough cuts figures to be the Patriots’ 2022 second-round pick, Tyquan Thornton.

Patriots WR Room Is Already 5 Deep

That is the consensus from several analysts who have put together projected 53-man rosters for the Patriots coming out of the NFL draft. The presumption is that New England will keep five or six receivers. That group starts with Bourne, Douglas, Osborn, Baker and Polk. If it is five receivers, then those will be the guys.

If the team keeps six, it will likely be oft-injured veteran JuJu Schuster-Smith, one of the worst signings of the late-term Bill Belichick era. The Patriots could simply cut Schuster-Smith, but they will have to pay him, either way. It could be worth it to see if Schuster-Smith can stay healthy and reclaim some value, perhaps setting up a midseason trade.

But Thornton, it seems, is gone. That could be a problem, because he is by far the fastest player on the Patriots’ offense, having run a 4.28 40-yard dash at the 2022 combine. Both of the New England rookie receivers were over 4.5 in their 40 times.

In two seasons, though, Thornton could not stay healthy, or make an impact when he was. Thornton played 22 games, he had 35 catches and 338 yards receiving.

In Bleacher Report’s scouting report from two years ago, it was pointed out that Thornton was more of a runner than a catcher.

“Thornton is a tall, skinny burner at the receiver position whose play speed matches his timed speed,” the site pointed out. “He is a twitchy athlete who flashes good body control as a route-runner and the ability to tempo his excellent long speed. …  He doesn’t completely trust his hands; drops and double catches crop up.”

Tyquan Thornton a ‘Disappointment’

The only hope for Thornton might be that Bourne opens the season on the physically unable to perform list, which would open up an extra roster slot. Even in that case, though, it would likely be Schuster-Smith who sticks.

Kayshon Boutte and Jalen Reagor are likely to be sent to the unemployment line, too.

As veteran Patriots beat reporter Karen Gurgerin of MassLive wrote, “It remains to be seen how long it takes Bourne to get back to form after ACL surgery last year. Osborn is a nice addition, while Douglas should be even better in Year 2. While it makes some sense to part with Smith-Schuster, the guess here is they’ll stick with him.

“That means Tyquan Thornton, whose been a disappointment to this point, draws the short straw. Jalen Reagor did well as a returner, but not much more. He’s out along with Kayshon Boutte, who is dealing with an offseason arrest on illegal gambling charges.”




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