Who will be the Patriots WR1?

Is Nelson Agholor the Patriots top WR?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The New England Patriots are currently seeming to trend upwards as a team after a very solid offseason and returns of players who opted out last season.  Signings like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Matt Judon, Jalen Mills, and others will help this team move forward and continue the success of an already strong franchise.  With that in mind, the wide receiver position for the Patriots is a relative unknown, and it is pretty hard to predict who will be their lead receiver.  In this article, I will be going over their three main options to lead the receiver group, as well as why they would each be viable options.

Nelson Agholor – #13

First up, we have one of the Patriots more interesting free agent acquisitions in Nelson Agholor, who had a pretty solid season last year.  The move from Philadelphia to Las Vegas clearly helped Nelson out, as he was able to perform at a pretty mid to high level compared to his previous years.  He put up the following statline last season:

  • 16 games played (13 games started)
  • 48 receptions in 82 targets (58.5% catch rate)
  • 896 yards, 18.7 yards per reception, 8 touchdowns

One more worthy stat to note would be his yards per target, which was 10.9.  This is absolutely amazing from a receiver, as he averaged over a first down for every target he had, not every reception, every target.  Being able to get a first down on every time the ball is thrown your way (on average) shows his ability to make plays and get open to the point where he can benefit the passing game a ton.  This capability would help the Patriots a ton as his very high amount of yards per target would only go up with more receptions likely, which being WR1 would give him.

Jakobi Meyers – #16

The Patriots young receiver entering his third season this year was able to break out in 2020-2021, being given the reigns of sorts to the Patriots receiving room.  The NC state product had a relatively uneventful rookie season, however was able to take it up a notch in his sophomore season and prove he was ready to at the very least be a starter with Cam Newton at the helm.  Meyers put up the following:

  • 14 games played (9 started)
  • 59 receptions on 81 targets (72.8% catch rate)
  • 729 yards, 12.4 yards per reception, 0 TDs, 9.0 yards per target

Something else to notice is that Meyers did not play every game, as he was inactive for two of them, and only started just one game over half the season, which makes this statline even more impressive.  You could justify nearly doubling this stat sheet (considering it will be a 17 game season, nearly double what he played last season) and get an idea of his starting production.  Overall his youth and capabilities with having really good hands and solid route trees would definitely make the WR1 position more complete.

Kendrick Bourne – #84

Finally, we have another free-agent addition in the former San Francisco 49ers receiver Kendrick Bourne.  Bourne has shown some flashes as a receiver and started 13 games in four seasons for SF.  His catch rate has pretty much consistently remained above 63% aside from his rookie year, and he has been a quality starter when placed there.  He is not an extremely flashy big-play receiver by any means, but he is reliable, and he makes plays when he needs to, which is something the Patriots desperately need.  

In 2020 he put up a decent stat line, which was comprised of:

  • 15 games played (5 games started)
  • 49 receptions on 74 targets (66.2% catch rate)
  • 667 yards, 13.6 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns, 9.0 yards per target

I would not shoe Kendrick in for WR1 as of day one, no.  However, I think he has the potential to work into that role over time if Belichick can continue his development, as Bourne is still only 25 years of age, and has only played for four seasons.

Top Five Worst Free Agency Signings

By: Tayyib Abu

NFL free agency began with a bang last week as teams started to construct their rosters for 2021. Free agency is the first tentpole of the offseason, it precedes the draft, and fans can finally see what moves their team makes. At this time of the year, every fan is excited. It is the season of new hope. Conversely, it is also the time of year when teams make some mistakes. In their desperation, franchises may overpay for veterans or, they might make too many desperate moves. Last week saw many talking heads talk about which team made the right moves; therefore, it’s time to look at the wrong signings.

Nelson Agholor – New England Patriots

The New England Patriots splashed the cash in the first days of free agency. After missing out on the playoffs, New England is eager to rectify that in 2021. That is why the team spent big money on several players last week. A lot of those moves made sense for the Patriots, although one didn’t.

The Patriots inked wideout Nelson Agholor to a two-year $22 million deal. That is an exorbitant amount to give to a veteran receiver, specifically in a crowded market where no wideouts are getting top dollar. In comparison to Agholor, Juju Smith Schuster got a one-year $8 million contract. The Steelers pass-catcher is much better than Agholor at this stage of their careers.

Agholor shone for Las Vegas as the deep-threat on passing routes. His 2020 stat line read like this; 48 receptions, 896 yards and eight touchdowns. Going off those stats, Agholor is an inspired signing. It was the best season of his career. At 27, it felt like it came too late. Throughout his career, Agholor’s played very inconsistently. He’s only played a whole season three times in his career; moreover, Agholor is streaky. He experiences spells where he drops balls, struggles with his routes and can lose confidence.

Patriots quarterback Cam Newton is wildly inconsistent as well. The Patriots needed to sign a reliable number-one target. Agholor’s never been that in his career. Outside of deep-post routes or vertical routes, Agholor will struggle in New England. Newton’s arm is not as powerful as it was before.

Consequently, the deep-routes may not be the best plan for New England. If New England strays away from that plan, Agholor could become redundant as the Pats run the ball out of 22 personnel. Signing a streaky wideout to a big contract is overkill. New England could’ve spent the money elsewhere, especially with a loaded receiver class in the draft.

Kenny Golladay – New York Giants

Kenny Golladay signed an eye-watering four-year $72 million contract. As other receivers got the bare minimum, Golladay received the big bag of money he desired. Intrinsically, signing Golladay is not a bad thing. On the other hand, signing him to that deal is a big mistake. The former Detroit Lion is injury-prone. He’s played one 16-game season once in his career.

Moreover, there is the glaring issue of the quarterback. Daniel Jones is still wildly inconsistent; he straddles the lines of glory and disaster like a tight-rope walker. Jones requires players that create separation from defenders. Golladay is not that player.

He excelled in Detroit due to his skill at catching contested balls; plus, he had a quarterback that could rifle the ball into tight windows. Daniel Jones doesn’t possess Matthew Stafford’s bazooka arm. Jones isn’t the player to jam a ball in a tight window on his receivers’ back shoulder. That is Golladay’s bread and butter.

Kenny Golladay is a terrific receiver; however, the Giants won’t see that with Daniel Jones. New York effectively paid Golladay $18 million in 2021 to evaluate Jones. That is like buying the most expensive training-wheels for a bike missing a wheel. No team should ever overpay a skill-positions player to make a judgment on the quarterback. That is a recipe for disaster; especially, if Jones can’t make it work with an elite receiver.

Andy Dalton – Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears’ miserable offseason continued as they signed quarterback Andy Dalton. After courting Russell Wilson, Chicago settled for the Red Rifle. Dalton is an upgrade on Trubisky, of that there is no doubt. Sadly, he isn’t Russell Wilson and because of the Bears fans understandable anger, Dalton is in a lose-lose situation.

It gets worse for Chicago. The Bears needed to release Pro-Bowl cornerback Kyle Fuller to clear space for Dalton. Chicago could’ve signed Dalton for less money last year; instead, they traded a pick for Nick Foles. Dalton is a solid quarterback, nevertheless, Chicago overpaid for a quarterback that doesn’t make them a contender in the NFC North.

Rayshawn Jenkins – Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars came into free agency with a ton of cap space. Urban Meyer was ready to attack his first season in the NFL. Strangely, Jacksonville opted to sign safety Rayshawn Jenkins to a $35 million contract that may rise to $39.5 million.

Jenkins is notorious for his lousy tackling, plus he’s only notched five interceptions in his career. The 2021 draft boasts a wealth of talent at the safety position. The Jags own picks throughout the early rounds; they could draft a premier safety like Richie Grant or Trevon Moehrig instead of spending money on Jenkins, who’s struggled mightily in his career so far. The Jags would own more cap flexibility and a better player on the roster if they didn’t sign Jenkins.

Trey Hendrickson – Cincinnati Bengals

Paying players for the number of sacks they posted is a risky move. That is what the Bengals did in signing Trey Hendrickson. The former Saints player shone last year as he totaled 13.5 sacks; Although Hendrickson did play on a fantastic line in New Orleans.

A lot of his success can get dished to the other players as well as himself. The Bengals inked Hendrickson to a massive $60 million contract. It is a huge contract, one that Hendrickson mightn’t deliver on.

Hendrickson is a speed-rusher, one that beats players in one-on-one battles. The Bengals defensive line doesn’t boast the depth of talent that New Orleans’ did. That will become a problem for Hendrickson as he will get double-teamed a lot more.

Hendrickson lacks the power to bull-rush past defenders, he will need help from the other players on the defensive line. The Bengals spent a lot of money on Hendrickson; if they are to see an improvement on the line, they’ll need to spend some more.

Las Vegas Raiders Free Agents: Re-Sign or Walk

Raiders free agents: re-sign or exit?

By: Dylan Bishop

The Raiders are now looking forward to the offseason after finishing with an 8-8 record this past season. They do have a superb roster, especially on offense. Nonetheless, this offseason is critical for Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden’s team, as they are looking to add pieces to the roster to hopefully solidify the Raiders as a playoff team for next season and the seasons to come. 

One of the first things to look at this offseason is the Raider’s own impending free agents to see if we should resign them or let them go. Here’s how I believe it should go. 

QB Nathan Peterman: Sign

Jon Gruden really likes Peterman as a QB. The Raiders do need depth so it’s a no brainer to bring him back on a cheap deal. 

HB Devontae Booker: Sign 

Booker played well as he was brought in to put less weight on the shoulders of Josh Jacobs. He did score three touchdowns this season, two of them in Week 10 against Denver. Expect him to be back as he won’t fetch a big price tag. 

HB Theo Riddick: Walk

Riddick rarely saw the field as the Raiders already have a solid third down receiving back in Jalen Richard. We just don’t need him. 

WR Nelson Agholor: Sign

Aghlolor was brought over last offseason from Philly on a prove it deal. He sure did prove it as he had a career year as he was one of Carr’s top targets as he almost had 900 receiving yards and 8 touchdowns. 

Especially with Ruggs being less productive, they need his stability. Bringing Agholor back should be one of the Raiders priorities this offseason as he will likely have a bigger price tag due to his breakout year. But a deal around seven mil/year would be totally worth it. 

WR Zay Jones: Walk

Zay Jones fell back in the depth chart after the additions at the WR position last offseason. The Raiders would likely let him go to give Ruggs, Agholor, Renfrow and Edwards more touches. 

TE Jason Witten: Walk

Witten was brought over from Dallas on a one year, four million dollar deal last season. He’ll likely retire as he should be a future hall of famer. But the Raiders can save a few million dollars and give more snaps to Foster Moreau if Witten leaves this offseason. 

TE Derek Carrier: Sign

Carrier is seldom used, but he’s a good enough tight end to bring back behind Waller and Moreau for our third stringer at the position. 

OL Denzelle Good: Sign 

Good played really well at both guard and tackle in place of the injuries sustained on the offensive line. He’s good enough to start but it would be a no brainer to bring him back. 

OL Sam Young: Walk

Young also had to play a lot, mostly at RT due to Trent Brown missing time. But he is 33 years old so the Raiders should let him walk and find someone younger to play backup on the offensive line. 

DE Takkarist McKinley: Keep

Gruden did say in an interview that McKinley would be part of the Raiders future plans on defense. Seems like they’re intending to keep him around.

DT Jonathan Hankins: Keep

Hankins is a big body guy to plug holes and to stop the run, as he played modest last season. The Raiders should bring him back on a short deal to compete for a roster spot. 

DT Maliek Collins: Walk

Collins followed Rod Marinelli over to Vegas to see if he could bolster the interior of the defensive line. He did miss time but when he was in, he played awful. It should be an easy decision to move on from Collins to find someone better. 

DT Kendal Vickers: Keep

Vickers came in and played well occasionally. He won’t be expensive and he’s young so it’s an easy decision to resign him. 

LB Raekweon McMillan: Walk

McMillan came over from Miami via trade. He didn’t see the field much as the Raiders have better LBs on the roster (Morrow, Kwaitkowski, Littleton). He’ll likely go somewhere else to compete for a spot. 

LB Nicholas Morrow: Keep

Morrow had a career year last offseason and he did it in the right time, his contract year. He earned it after his good play at linebacker. He was second on the team in sacks and was arguably one of the best coverage linebackers we had last season. 

LB Kyle Wilber: Keep

Wilber is a captain on the team and is a great special teamer. He will be back. 

CB Nevin Lawson: Walk

The Raiders have plenty of youth at corner needing playing time, as Lawson did not play well back there this season. Let him go. 

CB Daryl Worley: Walk

All of the reasons to let Worley go are the same for Lawson. Let the young guys get the playing time. 

S Erik Harris: Walk

Harris was one of the main problems on Vegas’s back end as he could not cover a single opposing receiver. Harris needs to walk for this defense to improve. He doesn’t deserve seeing the field. 

S Dallin Leavitt: Keep

Leavitt is mainly a special teams guy as he also played safety some towards the end of the year due to injury. It’s important to keep good special teamers around. He stays. 

K Daniel Carlson: Keep

Carlson had a great year, he broke Janikowski’s single season record of points scored and was named AFC special teams player of December. He deserves a new deal. 

LS Trent Sieg: Keep

Every team needs a long snapper. Sieg does the job. 

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