Since Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman have left the New England Patriots, the team has honed in their identity as being a physical, rushing football team. However, they have also realized that they need to surround young quarterback Mac Jones with talent, and the franchise is hopeful that he can take a step forward with the periphery weapons the front office has brought in.
As a bit of an under the radar move, the Patriots brought Kendrick Bourne in from the San Francisco 49ers hoping that he could make their offensive more dynamic. While he is not the type of player that will command double teams, he has shown that he can be a solid NFL wide receiver when given the chance. Bourne led the team in yards per reception with 14.5 last year, and Jones will likely look to him as a field stretcher again this season.
If Bourne served as the deep threat for New England last season, then Jakobi Meyers’ role was solidified as a possession receiver. Meyers led the Patriots with 83 catches in 2021, and scored two touchdowns. He was a bit notorious for not being able to get in the endzone in his prior New England years, but will continue to be valuable as a chain mover for the team.
The most notable offensive pickup for New England this offseason was trading for wide receiver DeVante Parker. They are certainly familiar with his work, as Parker spent the first seven seasons of his NFL career competing against the Patriots as a member of the Miami Dolphins. It is anyone’s guess as to what type of impact Parker could have in New England. He has the physical tools to be a favored target of Jones, but has also missed a lot of time in his career due to injury.
Along with Parker, Nelson Agholor provides a veteran presence to a receiving corps largely led by younger players. Since being selected in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft by the Philadelphia Eagles, it has been made pretty clear that Agholor will probably not live up to that hype, but he has been a reliable member of a few receiving units. If he remains on the roster this season, he will likely fill in as a third or fourth option.
Heading into the 2021 season, the Patriots made a big free agent splash at tight end. One of their notable moves was to bring in former Los Angeles Charger Hunter Henry. It was not clear just how much explosion he would have coming off of a serious knee injury, but Henry had a great first season in New England. He emerged as a legitimate red zone option for Jones, catching a career high nine touchdowns. When the Patriots don’t run the ball near the goal line, Henry is usually at the forefront of what New England likes to do in that area in the air.
New England also made a point to bring in former Tennessee Titans tight end Jonnu Smith ahead of last season as well. He took a backseat in the passing game to Henry, but was still valuable in the two tight end sets that New England has loved to deploy over the years. With another year under his belt in New England, it would not be surprising if Smit