On top of all the questions the Patriots will need to address this offseason, re-signing Jakobi Meyers should be near the top of the list. The New England receiver is set to hit free agency on a second-round tender this year for the first time in his career. Typically, the Patriots haven’t had to deal with their pass-catchers being heavily sought after, but Meyers is already being touted as the best available free-agent receiver of the group.
Because the free-agent market appears uninspiring, it’s anticipated that this will raise the price to sign him. In addition, any team expressing interest will have to match the tender set by the Patriots, which seems a bit of a stretch as Meyers was an undrafted free agent in 2019. However, with a limited pool of receivers to choose from and his incredibly productive last two seasons, teams will show a lot of interest.
The Patriots have until March 13th to get a deal done before Meyers hits free agency. Because he said he would like to return to New England, a deal could get done quickly. Plus, it has been reported that there should be plenty of cap space to keep top talent this year. However, suppose he is interested in exploring his options and testing the market to see how much other teams may offer, especially as Bill Belichick has historically not offered big contracts. In that case, a potential deal may take longer than we think.
But when considering who is on the books for the 2023 season and looking back at the last big spending offseason for the Patriots, Meyers could demand more money. Both Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker have cap hits of over $6 million for next year, with base salaries worth significantly more than the tender placed on him.
Regarding the money Meyers could expect in free agency, the MMQB’s Albert Breer suggested in November that the offers could be similar to Cedrick Wilson’s from the Dolphins.
"“There’s very clear value internally for Jakobi Meyers. I think there’s another player who this sort of marries up with as far as free agency goes and value goes. And that’s Cedrick Wilson, who came up in the Cowboys system similarly to how Jakobi Meyers has come up here.Wilson just kept getting better and better and more reliable over the years. The Cowboys wound up letting him go after last season; he winds up signing in Miami getting a three-year, $22.5 million contract. So, I think that’s right around the ballpark of what Jakobi Meyers is looking at for a similar player.”"
Although history doesn’t work in his favor, Wilson’s deal seems plausible for Belichick to offer. A three-year, $22.5 million contract is less than what New England paid to Nelson Agholor, who received two years, $22 million from the team over the last two seasons.
As the offense is reportedly set to have a dramatic makeover over the next several months, maintaining an important and productive piece like Meyers becomes much more critical.
The connection between Mac Jones and Meyers has been clear from the start. On top of their on-field chemistry, the quarterback has repeatedly spoken highly of his teammate and emphasized his desire to see Meyers remain with the team in the future.
"“Jakobi’s one of the best — if not the best — teammates I’ve ever had. He’s a great person. He comes to work every day. Doesn’t complain. Does everything right. And he deserves everything that’s coming his way. So hopefully it’s with us. Yeah, he means a lot to me.”"
Besides becoming Jones’ most trusted target, Meyers was also Cam Newton’s during the memorable 2020 season and Bailey Zappe’s when Jones was injured. His fluidity at the position, leadership amongst his fellow receivers, and incredible work ethic that has translated to the field effortlessly make re-signing him seem like the easiest decision. But will Belichick make the right move?
Because he has become such a vital part of the offense and has made a significant impression upon those in Foxboro, it’s difficult to imagine seeing him sign elsewhere.