Patriots

ESPN insider points to one of Tom Brady’s receivers as a ‘perfect’ fit for the Patriots

"The Patriots should strengthen their pass-catching arsenal."

Chris Godwin is one of the top wide receiver free agents this offseason. (AP Photo/Jason Behnken)

Following a 47-17 drubbing to the Bills in the wild-card round of the playoffs, the Patriots might have a fair amount of needs to address if they want to take that next step into title contention.

The defense allowed a touchdown on essentially every drive in its last two losses to the Bills while the offense showed its inability to spark big plays with rookie quarterback Mac Jones at the helm.

Even though the Patriots spent a lot of money to address needs at wide receiver and tight end last offseason, ESPN insider Jeremy Fowler believes that’s the biggest priority the Patriots have to address this offseason. He even suggested they sign a player that’s a teammate of Tom Brady’s.

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“Maximize Mac Jones’ production with more help,” Fowler wrote. “A college quarterback-turned-wideout led the Patriots in receiving (Jakobi Meyers, 866 yards). One of their $50 million tight ends caught fewer than two passes per game this past season (Jonnu Smith, 28 receptions in 16 games). A wide receiver due $9 million next year is coming off a 473-yard campaign (Nelson Agholor).

“The Patriots should strengthen their pass-catching arsenal. New England has a multidimensional attack with an imposing running game but needs more. Free-agent wideout Chris Godwin would be perfect for New England’s offense if the team is comfortable with his medical evaluation, coming off a torn ACL. The Patriots must decide on Agholor, who has a $14.9 million cap hit versus $10 million in dead money.”

Signing Godwin could certainly be a way to make life easier for Jones. The fifth-year receiver’s recorded at least 65 receptions over the last three seasons, including a 98-catch season this year in 14 games before he tore his ACL. He’s also recorded at least 800 receiving yards in each of his last four seasons, with his career-best coming in 2019 when he had 1,333 receiving yards.

While Godwin isn’t typically used as a deep threat, he could be a nice safety valve for Jones. He averaged 5.3 yards before catch per reception and 6.0 yards after catch per reception this season, showing an ability to move the ball in short situations.

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Godwin is expected to make a full recovery after having ACL surgery in January. The Buccaneers placed the franchise tag on Godwin last offseason after he was a key part of their Super Bowl-winning team in 2020. Pro Football Focus projects Godwin to sign a four-year, $70 million deal if he hits free agency.

Fowler also speculated on what the Patriots will do with their biggest free agent.

“A major decision on J.C. Jackson looms,” Fowler wrote. “Jackson has become one of the game’s premier cornerbacks and will be paid as such. Not sure New England loves him enough to pay him close to $20 million per year.

“And I would find a way to keep linebacker Dont’a Hightower. His age (31) is an issue, but he is a leader who keeps the defense organized and doesn’t rely on speed, which should help his game age well.”

PFF projects Jackson to receive a slightly bigger contract than Godwin, projecting him to sign a four-year, $72 million deal.

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