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Patriots 2021 free agency profile: Will Quincy Adeboyejo get another chance to prove himself?

Related: Patriots offseason preview: New England needs to upgrade its wide receiver position

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Coming off a disappointing 2020 campaign, the New England Patriots are headed into a pivotal offseason: they need to rebuild a roster that went just 7-9 last year and is in need of some major upgrades across the board. Part of those could be bringing back the players scheduled to enter free agency — and there are quite a few of them.

All in all, 34 players that were with New England in one way last season are in need of a new contract. Among them is wide receiver Quincy Adeboyejo, who is an exclusive-rights free agent and will therefore hit the open market on March 17 if not signed to a tender sheet at that point.

Hard facts

Name: Quincy Adeboyejo

Position: Wide receiver

Jersey number: 19

Opening day age: 26

Size: 6-foot-3, 200 pounds

Contract status: Exclusive-rights free agent

Experience

What is his experience? Before arriving in New England during the 2019 regular season, Adeboyejo already had two seasons of NFL experience on his résumé. He first entered the league back in 2017 as an undrafted rookie signing by the Baltimore Ravens, and spent most of his first year as a pro on the team’s practice squad. He was eventually promoted to the active roster, however, and appeared in one game for the club on offense and special teams (without registering any stats, though).

Adeboyejo spent his entire second season in the NFL on Baltimore’s physically unable to perform list due to a leg injury, and was released by the club the following summer. He went on to join the New York Jets midway through the 2019 preseason and found his way to the Patriots’ practice squad later that same year. He spent the rest of the season there, and has yet to appear in a game for New England.

What did his 2020 season look like? After their playoff exit in mid-January, the Patriots opted to re-sign Adeboyejo to a one-year futures contract. The deal, which had a value of $675,000, gave him a chance to compete for a roster spot in his fourth season in the NFL but obviously did not guarantee anything: as a bottom-of-the-roster player, Adeboyejo needed to stand out during offseason workouts and training camp to put himself in a position to make New England’s 53-man squad.

However, he did not even get a chance to prove his value. The Patriots released Adeboyejo with an injury designation ahead of their first full-pads training camp session. He eventually made it through the waiver wire unclaimed and reverted to New England’s injured reserve list. Considering that he was sent there prior to roster cutdown day, he was ineligible to be activated off of it again and his 2020 season was therefore over before it even began.

Free agency preview

What is his contract history? Adeboyejo signed a standard three-year undrafted rookie deal with the Ravens in 2017, but did not even make it through its first full year. He later signed practice squad deals in Baltimore, New York and New England, as well as futures pacts with all three teams as well. All in all, his career earnings are estimated at around $1,15 million by Over The Cap.

Which teams might be in the running? If Adeboyejo reaches the open market — he would only do so if not signed to an exclusive-rights tender by the Patriots — plenty of teams might be interested in bringing him in on a minimum level deal. Other than the Patriots, the Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants and Washington Football Team are all listed as clubs in need of wide receiver help by Pro Football Focus.

Why should he be expected back? Adeboyejo has yet to play even a single game for the Patriots — he was not with the team during the 2019 preseason and moved to IR last summer — but he could still have value to the club. He has experience in the system, could work on kickoff and punt coverage, and has some versatility as a X/Z-receiver hybrid. Given the state of New England’s wide receiver position, help will be appreciated in any way, shape or form.

Why should he be expected to leave? The Patriots are projected to have around $59 million in salary cap space available this offseason, and could very well be in the market for some major upgrades at the wide receiver position. With only so many roster spots available, though, a lower-tier player such as Adeboyejo could be on his way out even considering how cheap his exclusive-rights tender would be.

What is his projected free agency outcome? Even though New England will likely bring some offensive reinforcements on board and he has made virtually no impact since his arrival in 2019, it would not be a surprise to see the team does offer Adeboyejo a one-year exclusive-rights tender sheet at a yet-to-be-determined cost. He would offer some depth at the position and also not count against the cap under the league’s Rule of 51. Furthermore, he could still be released at any point after March 17.