Patriots gearing up for possible splash in free agency for top-name players

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Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

Armed with a boatload of cash to spend and a team that needed serious improvement, the Patriots had all the perks needed to put together a blockbuster free agency this year. There was hope that Jerod Mayo would kick off the new era in Foxboro by doing just that, especially since it wasn't a common practice under Bill Belichick.

But the Patriots have done almost the complete opposite instead.

They managed to re-sign their most critical free agents, like Kendrick Bourne, Hunter Henry, and Mike Onwenu, which the fans have applauded. They also signed some new talent for the team, mainly for depth, which has been met with mixed reactions.

Despite that, they've been one of the very few teams that hasn't made many significant moves to drastically improve their roster, which seems odd considering how much cap space they had (and still have) available.

It appeared they were moving in that direction with the reports regarding their push to sign receiver Calvin Ridley last week. They were the best offer on the table before he decided to sign with the Titans. That provided insight into how they might conduct the rest of free agency, but not much has changed since they lost out on their top receiver target.

Patriots eyeing possible splash in free agency for top-name players

Although they've been quiet on the trade front, a new report from Pro Football Network's Adam Caplan suggests the Patriots are indeed exploring trading for a top receiver this offseason, even more so after missing out on Ridley.

"Not only did the Patriots have serious interest in signing WR Calvin Ridley, but a league source with knowledge of the situation said the team has looked into the trade market for other veterans at the position.

As another source points out, New England has gotten little production out of the wide receiver position for years (especially drafted players), and they’re looking to add at least one impact player at the position this offseason."

Retaining Bourne and Jalen Reagor certainly helps the receiving corps, and adding K.J. Osborn moves them in the right direction as well. But trading for a top player would put the offense over the top and put a rookie quarterback in a much better position to be successful as soon as he takes the field.

They have been on the hunt for a game-changing WR1 for what feels like a decade, and at this point in the offseason, their only hope of locking one up would be via trade. The incoming rookie class is stacked, and they can get a potential top player that way as well, but securing a veteran provides insurance that a rookie simply cannot.

The potential names to pay attention to are Tee Higgins, who requested his trade after being franchise-tagged, and Justin Jefferson, since the Vikings are reportedly doing all they can to move up into the top 5 picks in the draft.

A new name to watch for is Brandon Aiyuk, who is in line for a contract extension, but the 49ers are said to have already dangled the receiver in a trade proposal last week, seemingly indicating they're willing to move on from him if the right opportunity strikes.

Any of these players would boost the Patriots' offense needs; it'll just come down to their availability and what the teams would want in return. Given their dire need for a receiver of their caliber, New England might not have the choice of being too picky.

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