Insider thinks Patriots can land star wide receiver on a discount in offseason

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

A Patriots insider thinks the team can sign a star wide receiver at a bargain this offseason.

With just five games remaining in the regular season and the New England Patriots’ playoff hopes most likely contingent on them running the table, it’s not crazy for fans to start looking ahead to the offseason, which is widely expected to feature some semblance of a roster overhaul.

While the 2021 draft and trade prospects provide great opportunities to make upgrades, it goes without saying that free agency is where the Patriots expect to do most of their damage. After all, they are projected to have the fourth-most salary cap space in the NFL at $69 million.

With that much financial wiggle room, the Patriots will be among the handful of teams in a position to exploit the pandemic-stricken market, so fans should be expecting them to spend big.

However, when it comes to adding a star wide receiver — which should atop of their priority list this offseason — Doug Kyed of NESN believes the Patriots will be able to sign one at a reasonable price, and that has just as much to do with their current circumstances as it does the unfriendly market.

Assuming none of these players ink extensions prior to the end of the season, the Patriots will have the luxury of choosing between JuJu Smith-Schuster, Allen Robinson, Chris Godwin, Will Fuller and Kenny Golloday, all of whom are the walking definition of elite.

While Robinson will be in high demand because of the numbers he’s posting in Chicago’s inept offense, the others might be available for the plucking at a discount. As Kyed notes in his mailbag column, Fuller was just suspended six games for taking a banned substance, so he will see a decrease in value.

Godwin, meanwhile, has been hampered by nagging injuries following a breakout 2019 campaign and his production has really fallen victim to Tampa Bay adding more and more weapons. He’s nowhere close to replicating the otherworldly numbers he posted last season.

The same can be said for Smith-Schuster, who’s often found himself third in Pittsburgh’s WR pecking order this season. With a decreased target share, he’s failed to register a 100-yard game this season and has just three games above 75 receiving yards.

As for Golladay, well, his contract year has been derailed by injuries. The Lions star missed the first two games of the season with a hamstring injury and he’s been sidelined since Week 8 with a hip injury for which there is no clear timetable for return.

Don’t look now, Patriots fans, but GM Bill Belichick might just be able to make a significant upgrade at wide receiver this offseason without breaking the bank. If you told us that at the start of 2020, we would’ve laughed in your face, so there’s plenty of reason to be excited for what lies ahead.