For years, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots have been without a star player at a key position, as they have not had a big-time wide receiver that can make plays in the passing game. We saw this hold Tom Brady back as he went from a mediocre quarterback in 2019 with the Patriots to an elite QB again with the Buccaneers in 2020. So, will the Pats finally address this issue? It’s hard to know for sure, but Bill Belichick has a big-time opportunity to do so, as the perfect option just became available. That perfect option is now-former Detroit Lions receiver Kenny Golladay.
The Detroit Lions did not use the franchise tag on Kenny Golladay
Kenny Golladay battled injuries in 2020 with the Detroit Lions and was only limited to 338 receiving yards and two touchdowns on 20 catches in five games. However, he is just one season removed from an incredible year in 2019.
After a decent rookie season in 2017 and a 2018 campaign that saw Golladay catch 70 passes for 1,063 yards and five touchdowns, he gained over 1,000 receiving yards for the second consecutive season in 2019. Golladay ultimately recorded 1,190 yards on 65 catches in 2019, and he had an NFL-leading 11 touchdown receptions. This was all good enough for him to earn his first Pro Bowl selection, too.
That 2019 season had former Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell claiming that Golladay could become as dominant of a receiver as Michael Thomas or DeAndre Hopkins, per ESPN. So, the Lions’ choice to not use the franchise tag on Golladay this offseason is a questionable one. But maybe his health became a concern for them. They also appear to be a team entering the rebuilding phase, so given the fact that Golladay turns 28 next season, he may not be a long-term option for Detroit.
Maybe, though, the Lions’ loss could be the Patriots’ gain?
Bill Belichick and the Patriots should go after Kenny Golladay
The New England Patriots’ lack of weapons was well-documented when quarterback Tom Brady played for them in 2019. They only had one receiver in 2019 that gained over 397 receiving yards, and that was veteran pass-catcher Julian Edelman, who had 1,117. Sure, Edelman is a consistent and productive receiver, but he’s not going to be a player that takes the top off a defense, and not having another receiver to rely on other than him really hurt Brady that year. We saw how much he dominated in 2020 with multiple talented receivers on the Buccaneers.
New England then continued to lack a big-time pass-catcher in 2020 as well. Jakobi Meyers showed promise, as he gained 729 receiving yards on 59 catches, but he didn’t have one touchdown catch. The Patriots also didn’t have one guy who went over that 729-receiving-yard mark, either.
This is where Kenny Golladay could come in for Bill Belichick and the Patriots. New England has $66.5 million in cap space, per Bleacher Report, and Golladay will officially become a free agent after not receiving the franchise tag from the Lions. He could ultimately be exactly what the Patriots have been looking for the past few years.
He not only led the NFL in touchdown catches in 2019, but he was also a threat down the field. Golladay averaged 18.3 yards per catch in 2019. No one who caught 22 passes or more for the Patriots in 2020 gained over 12.9 yards per reception. Golladay’s career-low yards-per-reception average is 15.2. He would immediately fill a big void for the Patriots if Belichick decides to go after him.
Now that Kenny Golladay will become a free agent, Bill Belichick may now have a perfect opportunity to address the big-time receiver void that the Patriots have had on their roster for years.
However, who will play quarterback for the Patriots?
Bill Belichick and the Patriots still need a quarterback
If the Patriots want to bring in a receiver like Kenny Golladay, they first must figure out their quarterback position.
Former NFL MVP Cam Newton has expressed an interest in coming back to the Patriots. He struggled through the air in 2020, though. Newton ultimately only threw for 2,657 yards, eight touchdowns, and 10 interceptions in 15 games. However, they also reportedly have an interest in bringing Jimmy Garoppolo back if he goes on the trade block, per Bleacher Report. Or they could address that position in the draft with a guy like Mac Jones.
It will be an interesting offseason for Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, to say the least. Whatever they do, though, the Patriots will have to address the quarterback and receiver positions in the coming months. We’ll see which directions they go in.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference