Patriots are considered favorites to pursue top free agent receivers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

The Patriots are in a better position this offseason than appears on the surface. They need a complete roster makeover, primarily on offense, but they luck out with free agency beginning over a month before the draft, where they will pick third overall.

This gives them the opportunity to address some of their biggest roster holes with veterans several weeks before the draft, allowing them to focus on other positions with rookies.

One of the weakest parts of the offense that needs significant improvement is the wide receiver room, a group that has been less than exciting for far too long. The assumption is that they will address the position immediately in free agency, but it is also speculated that they will take a receiver high in the draft. This has prompted several debates about the best direction for the team to go, with no clear answer yet found.

If Jerod Mayo and Co. choose to spend big in free agency like the new head coach declared this past week, then signing one of the most desirable free-agent receivers isn't out of the question like it may have been under Bill Belichick.

If that's the case, Bleacher Report has them favorited to take Mike Evans and/or Tee Higgins, the two players likely to receive the most expensive contracts this year.

The Patriots are favored to heavily pursue Mike Evans and Tee Higgins in free agency

Of the ten names that Joe Tansey considers the Patriots' free agent big board, he focuses on Evans for his reliability and consistency, despite the possible questions regarding his age. The five-time Pro Bowler is an exceptional talent who would immediately be the WR1 for whoever New England's quarterback will be and could be the first piece of an offense that defenses will begin to respect again next season.

"Evans is the most reliable pass-catcher on the free-agent market. He reached the 1,000-yard mark in each of his ten seasons, and he produced 13 or 14 touchdowns in three of the last four seasons."

There would be no reason to question if Evans was a fit for the offense since he has hit 1,000 yards every season since the Bucs drafted him in 2014. On top of that, he's played with an unfair number of quarterbacks during his ten-year career, proving he's adaptable and can be the type of weapon any quarterback can utilize.

Along with Evans, the Patriots will likely want to convince Higgins to sign with them for the long term. The WR2 in Cincinnati has been a rising star in the league despite playing behind Ja'Marr Chase since 2021. He is set to hit free agency for the first time in his career, opening the door to becoming the top guy on another team in the league.

Speculation suggests the Bengals are not interested in allowing that to happen and are insistent on keeping the receiver for as long as possible. Some reports claim they may franchise tag Higgins for the time being as they are having difficulties agreeing on an extension.

If he does hit free agency, there's no reason for the Patriots not to make the call ASAP, especially since he could be a big piece of their offense for more years than other available receivers.

"Tee Higgins has been injured more than Evans, but he is younger and could be a foundational roster piece for five to seven years.

"The Cincinnati Bengals wideout produced a pair of 1,000-yard seasons already in his four-year career. He also had 908 yards in his rookie campaign."

Most Patriots fans need little convincing regarding either of these players since many have been eyeing them since last year. Hopefully, because Mayo declared he will be spending money this offseason, fans won't have to dream about Evans or Higgins landing on the team because they will be on the roster in 2024.

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