Grade the Trade: Patriots top receiver sent to AFC North in new proposal

New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) is shown at MetLife Stadium, before the game with the New York Giants, Sunday, November 26, 2023.
New England Patriots wide receiver Demario Douglas (81) is shown at MetLife Stadium, before the game with the New York Giants, Sunday, November 26, 2023. / Kevin R. Wexler / USA TODAY NETWORK

Although the Patriots addressed their weak receiving corps by double-dipping at the position in this year's draft, selecting Javon Baker and Ja'Lynn Polk, the offense is still considered less than ideal, especially for a rookie quarterback.

Because of this, they remain the top team in trade proposals for receivers looking for extensions with their current teams, which doesn't appear to be happening for a few of the biggest names. One of those players continues to be Tee Higgins, who the Bengals franchise tagged for the 2024 season and has made no progress in contract negotiations beyond that.

That could mean that Higgins will be a top trade candidate for the Patriots if they're still interested in bolstering their receiving corps, as they claimed earlier in the offseason. If the Bengals can't reach a mutual agreement with the receiver, there's no point in keeping him for the season ahead, and there's no better time to ship him off than when he's the most desirable.

The Patriots have the cap space to afford to take on his contract now and extend it in the future, which Maurice Moton of Bleacher Report believes makes them a serious contender if Cincinnati decides to move on.

Patriots send a receiver to get a receiver from AFC North team

Besides being able to afford the price for Higgins, Moton also believes the Patriots have the right assets to exchange in such a trade.

Despite their lack of star power, he thinks New England could send DeMario Douglas, a second-year receiver, to the Bengals along with a second and fourth-round pick in next year's draft.

GTT DeMario for Higgins

It's a bit wild to consider moving on from a promising player who was the offensive leader in yards last year, but if the Bengals want a player in return for who would be a WR1 on the Patriots, it makes sense they would want Douglas.

Moton believes he would be the most valuable offensive asset for them, given the current landscape of their receiving corps and the question marks surrounding most of them going into the 2024 season.

"The rookies are unknowns. Bourne is recovering from a torn ACL. JuJu Smith-Schuster has missed several games because of injuries in two of the last three years. Tyquan Thornton, a 2022 second-rounder, hasn't panned out as a consistent contributor yet.

Whoever wins the Patriots' battle for the starting quarterback position would have a reliable wideout in Higgins, who can provide an immediate spark for a mostly lackluster passing attack since Tom Brady's departure in 2020."

Adding a player like Higgins would certainly put the Patriots' offense over the top in the way they have hoped over the last few years, but losing a rising star in Douglas isn't the most ideal.

Although Higgins would be considered an upgrade, and there are concerns about Douglas' fit in an Alex Van Pelt offense, he's a cheaper option who has already proven to be productive, which Baker and Polk are yet to do, and Higgins, as well.

Aside from that, the price is also pretty steep. We know the Bengals have been hellbent on getting a big return in potential trades for their star receiver. However, a player like Douglas plus two more draft picks, which the Patriots will need to continue building their young roster, seems a bit too high for their situation right now.

Grade: C

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