I don't think there are many people who are counting on the Patriots to be a playoff team in 2023, but if they are competitive, the team could be empowered to add a wide receiver. The team went 8-9 last year, and the main reason for their regression from the 2021 season was the offensive playcalling.
They went from Josh McDaniels, an excellent offensive coordinator, to Matt Patricia, a failed head coach and defensive-minded coach. It was a weird and obviously wrong decision by Bill Belichick, and it definitely backfired. Mac Jones regressed quite a bit and the offense itself was just hard to watch.
The defense was just fine, as they usually are. Well, in 2023, things appear to be pointing up. Bill O'Brien returns to the organization as the offensive coordinator, and he has a very solid track record of offensive success at the pro and collegiate level. The team added JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mike Gesicki in free agency, giving Mac Jones two solid targets to use in the passing game.
However, the team missed out in the DeAndre Hopkins' sweepstakes and still do not have that true WR1 that many other offenses across the NFL have. This is definitely going to be a problem when the season begins, but if the Patriots are competitive by the time the trade deadline comes around, they could feel empowered to add a difference-maker on offense, right?
For example, one player I'd have in mind here is Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Evans is a free agent at the end of the season and is on a team that really doesn't have much direction. Baker Mayfield is projected to be their starter, and the Bucs were a bad team last year with Tom Brady, so I do not think there is much to look forward to down south.
I would not be surprised if the Bucs were sellers at the trade deadline, and Evans, a future Hall of Famer, would be an obvious player to be dealt. Well, the Patriots could surely have interest, right? Evans is exactly what the team needs with a WR1 player. They could also opt to extend him for another year or two.
Giving Mac Jones a weapon like Evans would give the Pats a very nice push on offense to hopefully chase a playoff spot. Another team that could surely be sellers at the deadline is the Las Vegas Raiders, whose roster, front office, and coaching staff is littered with former Patriots. Well, what if Davante Adams wants out? I mean, it might sound unlikely now, but heck, the Raiders would be fools to hang onto Adams if it's clear that they are not going to contend in 2023.
The Arizona Cardinals could also be sellers at the deadline, and their best WR is Hollywood Brown. He isn't an elite target, but he's probably better than anyone the Patriots currently roster. Now, there is also a chance that the Patriots sell at the deadline if the season is not breaking the way they had hoped, but there is reason to believe that the team can add a stud WR at the deadline in 2023.