Offseason weekends are usually rather quiet affairs, but the New England Patriots decided to spice things up a bit: they acquired DeVante Parker via trade from the Miami Dolphins, sending a 2023 third-round pick to their AFC East rivals for the wide receiver and a 2022 fifth-rounder.
Parker, 29, entered the league as a first-round draft pick by Miami in 2015. Spending his entire season thus far with the Dolphins, he appeared in a combined 94 regular season and playoff games. Along the way, he caught 342 passes for 4,782 yards and 24 touchdowns.
While his production has been solid, Parker also has missed significant time due to injury throughout his career. With that said, let’s take a look at this medical file to find out what it means from New England’s point of view.
2011 (Louisville): While he did deliver an impressive career at Louisville that led to him getting drafted, Parker did miss some time due to injury. As a true freshman in 2011, for example, he missed missed two games in October after suffering a high ankle sprain.
2013 (Louisville): Parker suffered a shoulder injury ini early October versus Temple, and was forced to miss the next week’s contest versus Rutgers as a result of the issue.
He also hurt his ankle in the first quarter of the Cardinals’ bowl game versus Miami. However, the issue did not keep him out for long: Parker returned later in the game, and immediately caught a 26-yard touchdown. He ended the contest with nine receptions for 142 yards and that score.
2014 (Louisville): Parker’s final college season started on the sidelines. The senior receiver broke a bone on the outside of his left foot in practice and missed the first seven games of the season as a result. When he returned, he was his usual productive self: despite playing in just six games and having missed significant time, Parker was able to record 43 receptions for 855 yards and five touchdowns.
2015 (Dolphins): The foot injury that cost him more than half of his senior campaign at Louisville also had an impact on Parker’s first year in the NFL. After feeling discomfort during the Dolphins’ offseason workouts, he underwent surgery to replace a screw in his foot — a procedure that forced him to start training camp on the physically unable to perform list. Parker did not see the field in the first three preseason games and played just one snap in the regular season opener.
Parker’s workload gradually increased during his rookie season, but another foot injury suffered against New England in late October forced him to be carted off the field. He missed the next two games before returning in Week 11.
Later that year, in December, Parker hurt his ankle in practice. He was limited as a result, but did not miss any time versus the Indianapolis Colts that week. Playing 94 percent of Miami’s offensive snaps, Parker caught four passes for 93 yards.
2016 (Dolphins): Parker suffered another injury in practice the following August. He hurt his hamstring, was forced to sit out the regular season opener, and subsequently was listed as questionable for the next three contests as well.
The injury bug bit him again in late November versus the San Francisco 49ers, when he was limited because of a back injury. He did not miss any games due to the issue, but was unable to fully participate in practice.
2017 (Dolphins): Parker dealt with a nagging injury throughout the 2017 season. He was already listed as questionable heading into Week 2, and just three snaps into Week 5 re-aggravated the issue versus Tennessee. Parker had to sit out the next three games because of the ailment, and was later limited in practice once more before the final two contests of the season.
2018 (Dolphins): Parker’s fourth season with the Dolphins was off to no better start, with him breaking a finger in his right hand. He was held out of the final three preseason games due to the issue, and also did not play in the first two regular season contests.
Later in September, a quad injury limited his availability. Parker ended up missing three of four games, with a four-snap performance versus Chicago in between.
Parker suffered another injury in November, hurting his shoulder versus the Green Bay Packers. He was questionable to play the following week against Indianapolis, but eventually took the field for 24 offensive snaps as well as three catches for 10 yards.
2019 (Dolphins): An undisclosed injury injury kept Parker out of a handful of practices in August, and he also did not play in Miami’s final three preseason contests.
In December versus the New York Jets, Parker was evaluated for a concussion. He ended up playing just 18 snaps that day — his lowest output of the season — and was also deemed questionable to suit up one week later. He did, and ended up returning to his usual starter-level exposure while catching four passes for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
2020 (Dolphins): Parker was not spotted at practice in-mid August due to a mystery ailment, and it later turned out to be a hamstring injury. He was limited heading into the season opener versus the Patriots, but was forced to play a limited role after the issue popped up again during the game. Parker was listed on the injury report until late September.
His first game removed from Miami’s injury list saw Parker catch 10 passes for 110 yards, but also suffer an ankle injury. The injury was not serious, though.
In mid-October versus the Jets, Parker hurt his groin — an issue that bothered him throughout the bye week and into the early-November matchup versus the Los Angeles Rams. Parker was limited in that contest, and he caught just one pass: a 3-yard touchdown.
Miami’s December contest versus Kansas City saw Parker not register any stats: a leg injury limited him to one third of snaps, and forced him to spend time in the locker room. He eventually ended up missing the next two contests as well.
2021 (Dolphins): Parker’s final season with the Dolphins started just like his first one: on the PUP list, apparently due to the same hamstring problem that already hampered him the previous season. He eventually suffered a setback later during the season, and had to spend time on injured reserve as a result: he missed four games in November.
On top of his hamstring issue, Parker was also dealing with a hurt shoulder throughout his 2021 campaign.
What it means for the Patriots
Wonder why New England was able to acquire Parker at a relatively small price even in an in-division trade? His injury history certainly plays a role in that process. After all, as can be seen, it is significant and was a main reason why the 29-year-old has failed to consistently live up to his potential during his time in Miami.
The Patriots are apparently confident that Parker can stay healthy and become a consistent contributor in their offense, but the cost associated with acquiring him — both in terms of the trade and his contract — is not overly significant in case he cannot do that: New England had to give up a third-rounder in 2023 to get him on board, and his cap hits are manageable the next two years.
Still, the fact that he missed at least one game in six of his seven seasons in the NFL is concerning and illustrates that Parker should not be counted on to be the sole savior of New England’s wide receiver group.
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