There has been a lot of talk that the Patriots need a game breaking wide receiver. Someone that can make a difficult catch, in traffic, down the field. The Patriots had one of the best offenses in the NFL this season so the question becomes: Do the Patriots really need a breakout wide receiver? For now, that question can go unanswered. The real question might be: What would it take to land a top notch wide receiver like Larry Fitzgerald?
To surmise what Fitzgerald might cost the Patriots (or any other team) we need to look at recent wide receiver trades. While we’re at it, it seems that Andre Johnson isn’t exactly happy where he is. Johnson and Fitzgerald are both top 5 receivers and would likely command similar compensation from their respective teams. Recent high profiles trades include receivers Brandon Marshall and Anquan Boldin. Let’s examine those trades.
Boldin was traded for third and fourth round draft picks as he was entering the final year of his contract with the Arizona Cardinals. Boldin is no where near as good as Fitzgerald, but Fitzgerald caliber wide receivers aren’t traded every year. Fitzgerald and Boldin were teammates on the Arizona Cardinals and Fitzgerald and Johnson are clearly the better players.
Marshall was a team headache in Denver when he requested his trade. The Dolphins gave up two second round draft picks to acquire one of the best wide receiver talents in football. Fitzgerald and Johnson are often regarded as being better receivers. So it will probably take a little bit more than that.
It is important to note that Larry Fitzgerald is not a malcontent and is not requesting a trade like both Boldin and Marshall did. Andre Johnson might be a little more unhappy but I can’t imagine the Texans are anxious to move him after giving him the richest receiver contract in NFL history.
So looking at those two trades, what might it require to get Fitzgerald or Johnson? Probably a first and a third round draft pick in the same draft and potentially a player or a conditional pick in future years. That is an extremely high price to pay for Fitzgerald or Johnson. Are they worth it? Absolutely. Do the Patriots need a receiver that much? Absolutely not. That said, it will be interesting to see how the Patriots navigate this offseason and to see if they feel that they need to address the wide receiver position in a huge way like they did prior to the 2007 season.