The New England Patriots signed two wide receivers in free agency, and they may add more in the NFL Draft. One of the new guys is already eyeing Julian Edelman‘s old role.
New England signed Kendrick Bourne to a three-year, $15 million deal this offseason; Along with Nelson Agholor, the duo is expected to upgrade the Patriots’ receiving options drastically.
At one point, we thought Bourne and Agholor might be joining Edelman, Gunner Olszewski, Jakobi Meyers, and N’Keal Harry. Still, with the retirement of the Patriots great, there may be an open competition for reps in the slot.
In an interview with Landon Buford, Bourne clarifies he feels he does his best work from the slot. When asked about his role now that Edelman has retired, Bourne said:
I just see myself in the slot, outside, in no specific spot. I am not sure specifically how they are going to use me. I am just ready for whatever they ask me to do. But definitely, I feel there is more opportunity now that Edelman has retired. It is exciting.
Stepping into the slot is a significant responsibility with the Patriots. The team has gone to players in that position often over the past 20 years. Whether it was Deion Branch, Wes Welker, or Edelman, the team has had several great contributors from the slot.
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If Bourne can be anything close to Edelman over the course of his time with the Patriots, fans will love him.
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Kendrick Bourne’s Stats
Bourne will be 26 the 2021 season begins. He’s yet to have his breakout season, but the 2020 campaign was the best of his career thus far.
In 15 games, Bourne had a career-high 49 receptions and 667 yards. He found the end zone twice. Much like Edelman, Bourne has had some issues with drops. In 2020, Bourne dropped 8.1% of the passes thrown his way. Edelman dropped 8.5% in 2019 and 7.7% last season before his season ended.
Bourne will need to be more dependable in 2021.
Jakobi Meyers Might Have an Advantage
After spending the last two seasons with the organization and becoming Cam Newton’s favorite receiver in 2020, Meyers would seemingly have a leg up on the competition heading into 2021.
Meyers did great work in the slot, and he benefitted from his time working with Edelman. Meyers isn’t blazing fast, but he does possess enough quickness and the ability to create the separation needed to excel from the slot.
In 2020, Meyers led the Patriots with 59 receptions and 729 yards. Despite him standing atop the Patriots’ receiving charts in 2020, the team needed a better-suited No. 1 option. That could be Agholor or even a player the Patriots snag in the draft later this month. New England could look to one of their two new tight ends as the top option in the passing game.
In any case, as Bourne said, Edelman’s retirement will create an opportunity for someone else to make a mark.