The new NFL year begins Wednesday, March 16, and with it, the advent of 2022's free agent marketplace. Leading up to that first day, we'll examine the landscape from a Patriots perspective, continuing with the wide receivers.
PATRIOTS FREE AGENTS
OTHER NOTABLE NFL FREE AGENTS
Allen Robinson (CHI), Odell Beckham Jr. (LAR), Michael Gallup (DAL), Christian Kirk (AZ), Juju Smith-Shuster (PIT)
Gallup, Kirk, D.J. Chark (JAX), Jamison Crowder (NYJ)
One of the first orders of business this spring should be securing Jakobi Meyers with an RFA tender. Meyers has continued to improve over his three seasons, emerging as a go-to receiving in big moments. He's just the latest undrafted rookie to rise up the ranks and become a reliable player and it's a no-brainer for the Patriots to keep him around with a second-round tag.
A longer extension could also make sense but expect Meyers to be back, along with 2021 free-agent additions Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and 2019 first-rounder N'Keal Harry. That's not a bad place to start, as all four leading targets from 2021 should be better with Mac Jones in 2022, but to compete in today's NFL teams can never stop looking for receivers who can change games.
Olszewski is a tougher decision as far as tender. He has yet to emerge as a receiver but is a plus returner. With a second-round tender projected at nearly $4 million, that's a hefty price tag, while the low-round tender that offers right of first refusal on any external offer is still nearly $2.5 million.
After last year's spending spree, it's hard to see the team making a major splash in free agency without the same kind of cash to spend, though there's little doubt that top players like Davante Adams and Chris Godwin could be game changers for the Patriots offense, but bother were hit with the Franchise Tag this week.
Perhaps looking further down the list makes more sense, as Gallup and Kirk are the kind of interior receivers that would be good complements to the Agholor, Bourne and Meyers. Jamison Crowder is also an experienced slot receiver likely to be looking for a new home with opportunities. Smith-Schuster has been a popular speculative signing as well who could make sense. DJ Chark has 147 receptions in his first four seasons in Jacksonville and is still 25 years old.
Padding the receiving depth with at least one proven vet would make sense in free agency, but with so many roster areas to be addressed, they'll have to be budget-conscious, while also keeping an eye on practice squad players Kristian Wilkerson, Tre Nixon and Malcolm Perry.
The draft continues to have an array of potent receivers, picking up one in the first two days would make a lot of long-term sense, considering just Bourne is under contract past this season and a rookie would be under contract throughout the rest of Mac Jones' rookie contract. After major free agent splashes at receiver last year, it would be surprising to see a similar kind of spring.