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NFL free agency rumors: Phillip Dorsett reportedly had talks with Patriots, but will test the market

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There has been mutual interest about a return.

Divisional Round - Los Angeles Chargers v New England Patriots Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

With Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett and Cordarrelle Patterson all headed towards unrestricted free agency, and with Josh Gordon still suspended indefinitely, the New England Patriots’ wide receiver group might look a lot differently next year when compared to the team’s 2018 championship season. And while a lot can and will happen in the upcoming weeks, the initial signs regarding one member of the group appear to be positive.

According to the Boston Herald’s Kevin Duffy, New England has had conversations with Phillip Dorsett about a potential return. The 26-year old does, however, plan to test the free agency market that is set to open in mid-March to maximize his value coming off his rookie contract. That being said, money will not be the deciding factor for the former first-round draft pick: Dorsett is reportedly also looking for the best on-field situation.

“I’ve never been through this process. I don’t know what the future holds for me,” Dorsett told ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss. “I believe [Bill Belichick] wants me back, but you never know how it will go. Obviously, I want to be a key contributor for a team — a starter, that’s always been my goal, a guy that can help a team win. I enjoy going out there, working hard, and just playing football. I love the game. It’s the only thing I want to do.”

Dorsett, of course, had an up-and-down second season with the Patriots in 2018. One reason for that was his standing on the team’s depth chart behind both in-season additions Julian Edelman and Josh Gordon. But even after the latter left the team in mid-December, Dorsett failed to establish himself as a reliable option alongside eventual Super Bowl MVP Edelman and a similarly inconsistent Chris Hogan.

And while his year-long numbers are not bad per se — Dorsett caught a combined 37 passes for 360 yards and five touchdowns — they also don’t inspire plenty of confidence heading into free agency. This, in turn, could make a reunion between the Patriots and and the wideout the best-case scenario for both parties involved: New England would keep an experienced player, while Dorsett would remain in a familiar environment.