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Patriots reportedly signing free agent wide receiver Marqise Lee ahead of the 2020 NFL draft

Related: The Patriots passing offense needs to get more explosive

Kansas City Chiefs v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

The wide receiver position is one of the bigger needs for the New England Patriots heading into this week’s draft. After all, the unit failed to perform on a consistent level during the 2019 season due to a combination of injury, inexperience and off-field-issues. Before kicking off the draft, however, the Patriots have reportedly already bolstered their depth at the position: according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, New England has signed Marqise Lee.

Lee was released by the Jacksonville Jaguars earlier this week — meaning that he will not factor into the compensatory draft picks formula for 2021 — after spending the first six years of his career with the team. Lee was originally drafted in the second round back in 2014 and went on to appear in 62 games for the Jaguars. While never a true number one wide receiver, he did have regular production as a perimeter receiver in Jacksonville.

All in all, the 28-year-old has 181 catches on his career résumé for 2,253 yards and eight touchdowns. Most of his production did come early in his career, however: Lee struggled with injuries over the last two seasons and had to end both his 2018 and 2019 campaigns on injured reserve — prompting his aforementioned release. Now in New England, where he signed a one-year contract, he will compete for a fresh start on the Patriots’ receiver corps.

With Lee now in the fold, the team has nine wide receivers under contract. The veteran will join N’Keal Harry and Julian Edelman, who can both be seen as roster locks for the upcoming season, and compete against veteran Mohamed Sanu, fellow free agency acquisition Damiere Byrd, second-year players Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski, as well as former practice squad members Quincy Adeboyejo and Devin Ross.