Should Patriots consider trading for one of these elite wide receivers?
Which wide receivers should Patriots target via trade in 2023? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The New England Patriots should benefit from having an actual offensive coordinator in 2023. But they still have personnel issues to address on that side of the ball -- particularly at wide receiver.
The Patriots haven't had a true No. 1 wideout since Julian Edelman racked up 100 catches for 1,117 yards in 2019. While Jakobi Meyers had another strong season in 2022 (67 catches for 804 yards), he's still not a game-changing pass-catcher who keeps opposing defenses up at night.
Unfortunately for New England, there aren't many better options on the free-agent market; only JuJu Smith-Schuster (933 yards) tallied more yards than Meyers among wideouts set to hit free agency in March.
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But as our Phil Perry pointed out Wednesday on NBC Sports Boston's "Early Edition," there are at least one or two big names who could be had via trade this offseason.
"The name that I like best who could potentially be available is Tee Higgins from Cincinnati," Perry said. "He's going into the last year of his rookie contract. We know these are the types of players, contractually speaking, that Bill Belichick has targeted in the past.
"That guy is a true No. 1 on a team that already has a superstar (in Ja'Marr Chase). Can Cincinnati really pay Ja'Marr Chase and Tee Higgs and Joe Burrow all the big money deals that they're hoping for?"
Higgins has topped 1,000 receiving yards in back-to-back seasons and easily would be New England's best receiver if acquired. He'd probably cost the Patriots a first-round pick, however -- similar to what the Philadelphia Eagles gave up for A.J. Brown last offseason -- and would demand a hefty new contract in 2024 free agency.
The Boston Herald's Andrew Callahan threw out another name that should pique Patriots fans' interest: Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen.
"I'm looking at someone who's like Jakobi Meyers 2.0 (in terms of) body type, position: Keenan Allen," Callahan said. "He would cost $14.5 million next year. The Chargers have an easy path to cap hell. You say, 'We'll take him off your hands.' Like DeAndre Hopkins, he's going to be 31 and has two years left on his deal, which fits Mac Jones' window."
Callahan believes Allen would be a good fit "on so many different levels" based on his versatility and where he'd fit into the Patriots' wide receiver hierarchy.
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"It restores the order of the depth to its natural order," Callahan said. "DeVante Parker is your No. 2? Terrific. Kendrick Bourne and Tyquan Thornton can fight it out for your No. 3? Great. They (could get) matchups that they can take advantage of."
Again, Allen would require the Patriots parting with draft capital, but they do have three selections inside the top 100 of the 2023 NFL Draft at No. 14, No. 46 and No. 76.
Swinging blockbuster trades for star wide receivers isn't Belichick's modus operandi, but after watching his offense rank 26th in the NFL in total yards last season, perhaps he'll be motivated to buck convention in 2023.
For more discussion on potential Patriots wide receiver targets -- including Arizona Cardinals wideout DeAndre Hopkins -- check out the full "Early Edition" video below.