The New England Patriots are in dire need of an upgrade at the wide receiver position. Their lack of talent at wideout was far from the only reason the offense sputtered, but the lack of dynamic weapons considerably lowered their ceiling.
Simply put, no defense is scared of the current group, and the Patriots have very few players in the position who look like keepers.
The team's top receiver for the 2023-24 season, Demario Douglas, finished with just 561 yards, good for 78th in the league. It's an astonishingly low number for an offense playing in a very pass-friendly era of NFL football.
In 2022-23, the defense produced more touchdowns than any individual Pats receiver, proving even more that the situation is dire. The only two consistent threats on last season's roster were Douglas, a small, shifty slot receiver, and Kendrick Bourne, who could depart in free agency this offseason.
Armed with tons of cap space, the Patriots will have a chance to make significant changes to one of the league's weakest position groups. Director of Player Personnel Matt Groh understands the need to add explosiveness to an offense that struggles to create big plays.
Let's take a look at the team's top three free agent options and how they could help the team.
1. Michael Pittman Jr.
Most would expect Tee Higgins to occupy the top spot on this list, but the Cincinnati Bengals will likely franchise tag him, removing an incredibly exciting option for the Pats. But even with that piece off the board, the Patriots could add a player who is good enough to be a decent number-one option (if they draft a quarterback in the first round) or an elite second option (if they decide to go with Marvin Harrison Jr.).
At 26 years old, he's young enough to continue to improve, has had two 1,000-yard seasons to his name in just four seasons in the league despite instability at QB, and has stayed healthy, missing just two games in the last two years.
Pittman isn't the fastest outside receiver, but he's a very reliable target, the kind a quarterback can count on to move the chains. It's easy to imagine him forming a formidable one-two punch with someone like Harrison or helping a young passer like Jayden Daniels grow.