The New England Patriots have struggled to maintain consistent wide receiver talent over the years. Bill Belichick and the front office added a few rotational pieces before the 2021 season but not enough to move the needle. With today’s NFL being a passing league, it was time to make a move. Now, Mac Jones will have DeVante Parker at his disposal.
The Pats trading for Parker isn’t a major splash, but it could potentially be a considerable upgrade for this receiving corps. Jones is heading into his second season. After a solid start to the year, the Alabama product fizzled down the stretch.
New England hopes that by adding receiver talent, the 23-year-old quarterback can take the next step in Year 2.
The Patriots acquired DeVante Parker from the Dolphins
The Miami Dolphins recently pulled off a stunning blockbuster, acquiring Tyreek Hill from the Kansas City Chiefs. The shocking trade gave Miami room to part ways with fellow wide receiver DeVante Parker.
According to NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport, the New England Patriots acquired Parker and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick from the Dolphins in exchange for a 2023 third-rounder.
The move is a bit surprising considering the two squads are AFC East rivals. However, Bill Belichick and company clearly liked what they saw from Parker over the past seven seasons in Miami.
The Louisville product has had an up-and-down NFL career. He got off to a slow start but enjoyed a breakout during the 2019 season. Parker caught 72 passes for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns. His 2021 campaign wasn’t nearly as productive, though. He recorded 40 receptions for 515 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Despite the inconsistent production, New England could offer some stability for the eighth-year wideout.
How the trade impacts Mac Jones
The Patriots handed Mac Jones the keys to the castle after selecting him with the No. 15 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and releasing Cam Newton before the start of the season.
The former Crimson Tide standout enjoyed the most productive season of all the rookie quarterbacks. However, he was also in the best situation. New England is a franchise with a championship pedigree and a Hall of Fame head coach.
Jones threw for 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions while completing 67.6% of his passes. If not for Bengals wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, he would’ve won Offensive Rookie of the Year. He also made the Pro Bowl as an alternate.
The Patriots relied heavily on their run game and defense in 2021. However, they seem to understand they have to get their young signal-caller some weapons. Adding DeVante Parker is a decent start.
The former Dolphins wideout is a big-bodied target at 6-foot-3, 219 pounds. Parker’s size and athleticism make him a matchup problem for smaller cornerbacks. Even though he hasn’t consistently produced, maybe the change of scenery is what he needs.
New England must continue addressing the wide receiver position
The New England Patriots finished with a top-10 rushing offense in 2021, and they were just inside the top 15 in passing. Josh McDaniels’ unit put up 226.8 passing yards per game.
With the current construction of the roster, the Patriots can’t get into shootouts with most teams, nor do they want to. However, the NFL has some explosive offenses. The Buffalo Bills punished New England in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs, and the Pats couldn’t respond.
Jakobi Meyers was the team’s leading receiver with 83 receptions, 866 yards, and two touchdowns. Kendrick Bourne added 55 receptions for 800 yards and five scores. Tight end Hunter Henry led the offense with nine touchdowns.
Adding DeVante Parker to the mix gives the Patriots a player they don’t have. He could fill the role the franchise wanted to see out of draft bust N’Keal Harry. Still, the front office must continue to add talent.
New England could show interest in Odell Beckham Jr. again. He could give them a legitimate No. 1 option if he fully recovers from his ACL injury. The Patriots could also opt to address the position in the NFL Draft with a speedster like Jameson Williams or Chris Olave.
No matter the route they take, the Patriots must finally properly address one of their biggest problem areas to help Mac Jones reach his full potential.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference