With the New England Patriots officially in offseason mode, they shocked everyone with a unprecedented public coaching update late Thursday night.
The team announced they were working on a long-term extension to keep inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo in New England, and they also mentioned they were beginning true offensive coordinator interviews next week.
With that being said, the Patriots have seemingly let everyone know that they are already getting started on offseason priority No. 1, coaching.
Although the offensive coaching scheme in 2022 was less than desirable, the Patriots have plenty of personnel needs they should address this offseason, specifically, offensive tackle, outside corner and wide receiver. It is likely that corner and tackle are better addressed in the draft, but there are some notable receivers who could shake free.
These five blockbuster moves could help bolster the Patriots’ wide receiver room that currently features a collection of secondary and third options, while still desperately needing a true No. 1 option for Mac Jones.
Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Age at start of 2023: 31
Cost: 2023 second rounder (No.46), 2024 second rounder and a new Contract
Cap hit: $30.7m in 2023, $26.2m in 2024
Estimated new contract: 2 years, $44m ($22m AAV)
DeAndre Hopkins has been at the center of Patriots fans’ minds since it came out that Arizona was looking to move him. Although Hopkins has a no-trade clause in his existing contract, he has been linked to the Patriots forever due to the mutual respect he shares with coach Bill Belichick.
Hopkins is rumored to want an extension on his current contract, but for one of the game’s best wide receivers, a few second rounders and $44 million could give Mac Jones a true No. 1 wideout next season, which is something the Patriots haven’t had in a long time.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
Age at start of 2023: 30
Cost: new contract (Explained Below)
Cap hit: $14.1m in 2023, $59.4m in 2024
Estimated new contract: 2 years, $30.4m ($15.2m AAV)
Michael Thomas and the Saints have been bashing heads the last few seasons, and Thomas, the once prolific receiver, has been constantly battling injuries.
He will most likely be released this offseason, and the Patriots could get him with hopes of rehabilitating his career. Thomas has some gas left in the tank, and he would be an excellent fit for a quick decision-maker and accurate quarterback like Mac Jones.
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Age at start of 2023: 30
Cost: 2023 Second Rounder (No.46)
Cap hit: $26.6m in 2023, $24.6m in 2024
Brandin Cooks has been here before, but the Patriots could trade the No.46 overall pick in this year’s draft to grab an elite receiver and athlete. Cooks wants out of a rebuild, and the Patriots could look to add him to an offense that struggled with guys getting open.
With coaching changes, offensive tackle tweaks and an electrifying outside receiver, the Patriots could look night and day. Perhaps the most appealing aspect in this move is the fact that Cooks isn’t looking for new money and has two seasons existing on his current deal.
Although he is expensive, I’m not ready to throw the “Bill won’t pay these guys” card. With the announcement we saw the other day, it seems there is a clear cut initiative to change. The Patriots know they need an elite receiver, and this free agent class and rookie class isn’t as full of talent as years past.
Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports
Age at start of 2023: 24
Cost: 2023 First Rounder (No.14) and 2024 Third Rounder + New Contract
Cap hit: $2.7m in 2023
Estimated new contract: 6 years, $124m ($20.6m AAV)
Higgins is an interesting fit as an explosive wideout that is on an expiring contract. He is due for a massive extension, and quite frankly, he deserves it.
What’s not good for the Bengals is Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase are also up for extensions very soon, as well as some key defensive cogs. Unless Higgins, Chase, Burrow and others all take team-friendly deals, the Bengals will need to move on from Higgins.
This offseason, Higgins could be moved so that the Bengals could retain at least some value. In order for the Patriots to grab him, they will need to pay him like a No. 1 receiver and get commitment long-term. If they have that, the No. 14 overall pick of the 2023 NFL draft and a future third-rounder would get it done for one of the game’s elite weapons.
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
Age at start of 2023: 25
Cost: 2024 First Rounder, 2023 Second Round (No.46) + New Contract
Cap hit: $3.9m in 2023, $13.5m (Estimated 5th year option)
Estimated new contract: 6 years, $112.8m ($18.8m AAV)
A similar situation as Higgins, Brandon Aiyuk may be on the outs as the 49ers need to make decisions about the plethora of talent they have up for contracts over the next few years.
Well, there’s that and the fact that they’re already paying Deebo Samuel top dollar.
Aiyuk could also be traded this year and extended in New England. A future first-rounder and this year’s second-rounder could get it done. Aiyuk should have a fairly cheaper contract, but with the new money and cap yet to be announced, his contract may look like a steal in a few years.