Besides meeting with some of the top wide receiver prospects at last week’s NFL Scouting Combine, the New England Patriots are also taking a close look at the veteran market at the position. According to NFL Network’s Mike Giardi, the team has done “excessive work” on numerous wideouts potentially available this offseason.
Among the players on New England’s radar is soon-to-be-free agent Allen Robinson. One of the top wide receivers in football, Robinson will hit the open market after the Chicago Bears declined to place the franchise tag on him for a second straight year.
Robinson, 28, had an uncharacteristically quiet season in 2021. The 6-foot-2, 220-pound receiver caught just 38 passes for 410 yards and a touchdown — his worst output in all three categories since a torn ACL robbed him of virtually his entire 2017 campaign. However, the Bears’ revolving door at the quarterback position did not help him.
Despite his pedestrian production, Robinson is still expected to generate a lively market once entering free agency on March 16: he is arguably the top wide receiver available, and as such a potential target for the receiver-needy Patriots.
New England, of course, has limited salary cap space available at the moment. The team is only $9.5 million under the cap, per Miguel Benzan, and will need to generate more space in order to both re-sign a significant portion of its in-house free agents and be competitive on the market to add outside talent.
Will Robinson be among the players brought in? That remains to be seen, but the Patriots doing their homework on him and other potential targets has to be expected.
As for Robinson, he would give the team a true number one target and high-end possession receiver to pair with second-year quarterback Mac Jones. The top of New England’s wide receiver depth chart is currently filled by Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and restricted free agent Jakobi Meyers; former first-round draft pick N’Keal Harry is also still under contract as a fourth option behind them.
Adding a WR1 to complement the core guys at wide receiver and tight end — Bourne, Meyers, Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith — is likely high up on New England’s to-do list this offseason. In order to achieve that goal, the team is not just looking at free agents, though.