Patriots Talk: Should New England target a slot wide receiver?

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Would this offseason plan solve Patriots' wide receiver issue? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The New England Patriots need an upgrade at wide receiver.

That much is obvious after watching stud wideouts like Tyreek Hill, Ja'Marr Chase and Cooper Kupp make big plays to help their teams win their NFL Divisional Round matchups last weekend.

But do the Patriots really need to splurge on a "No. 1 wide receiver" this offseason, or is there a cheaper solution? Our Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry both believe New England should target a slot receiver to complement Kendrick Bourne and Jakobi Meyers, who both had productive seasons in 2021 yet weren't "go-to guys" for quarterback Mac Jones in clutch situations.

So, who could the Patriots look to add, and how would a slot man change the wide receiver hierarchy? Perry broke it all down on the latest episode of the Patriots Talk Podcast.

Patriots Talk Podcast: Going deep on Patriots wideout concerns | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

"I have what I would say is not a perfect solution, but I think it would be a better solution compared to what they had this past year," Perry began. "We look at Jakobi Meyers: He's high-cut, he's not that 'separate three yards from the line of scrimmage on third down' kind of guy.

"If you can get a real slot, whether it's Braxton Berrios as a free agent or Slade Bolden in the draft out of Alabama this year, then that would bump Meyers to the Z spot, which is that off-the-line spot; he goes in motion a lot, he plays inside, he plays outside. And then that would bump Bourne to that X spot that Nelson Agholor has now."

Berrios, a sixth-round draft pick of the Patriots in 2018, is coming off a career season for the New York Jets in which he caught 46 passes for 431 yards while earning first-team All-Pro honors as a return specialist.

Bolden would be an intriguing option in this year's draft: The Crimson Tide wide receiver overlapped with Jones for three years at Alabama, and AL.com's Mike Rodak recently described Bolden as a "perfect Patriot" on Perry's Next Pats podcast.

Curran: Assessing the state of New England's WR position

While both players could be had at a relative bargain (Berrios made $850,000 this season), Perry's "solution" relies on Bourne being dangerous enough as a deep threat to open up the middle of the field.

"The question to me there would be not about Meyers, because I think he could play the Z just fine," Perry added. "Can Bourne be a real X? Is he fast enough? Does he have enough juice, does he have enough respect from opposing defenses to be that guy?

"I would like him better out there than Agholor, but I don't know if he's enough on the outside. I like that group better than the one he had last season."

To hear more from Curran and Perry on the state of the Patriots' wide receiver position, what the team should do with Agholor and a theory on Bill Belichick's coaching career, subscribe to the Patriots Talk Podcast or watch it on YouTube below.