Best Replacements For Jakobi Meyers on Patriots
The New England Patriots' thin receiving core got thinner on Tuesday as top wideout Jakobi Meyers agreed to a $33 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders.
This is a rather significant problem for the Patriots. Meyers led the team in catches in two of the last three years. He had 67 receptions last season. It's not that he's a great talent who is irreplaceable, it's that New England has nobody on the roster right now ready to step up and take his target share. Free agency and the draft are not super strong at wide receiver. It's a bad time to bleed wideout talent, especially for a Patriots offense that has struggled for three or four years now to produce through the air.
But there are options out there to replace Meyers' production. Here are a few possible replacements.
A Hopkins trade to New England has always felt unlikely because he has a no-trade clause and the Pats hired Bill O'Brien to coach the offense. O'Brien is the guy who traded Hopkins to the Cardinals in the first place. Plus, Hopkins is owed $19 million next year with a cap hit of $30 million. Steep numbers, even if he still managed to record 64 catches in nine games last year. But with Meyers gone all possibilities must be considered. If Hopkins is willing to mend bridges with O'Brien and maybe willing to lower his cap hit with a contract renegotiation, he'd immediately become the best receiver the Pats have had in half a decade. It would present a great opportunity to ball out and prove he deserves one more big deal. It feels as though both sides would benefit if the bad blood is behind them.
Smith-Schuster would be a tremendous replacement for Meyers in terms of his ability to move the chains. Of Smith-Schuster's 78 catches with the Chiefs in 2022, 47 went for first downs. It looked at times that he had star potential while in Pittsburgh but his year in Kansas City is probably the ideal role for him-- a No. 2 or even No. 3 guy with reliable hands that a QB can look to on third down. In that light, the Pats would need to do more than just signing Smith-Schuster to replace Meyers' production but he would be a great start.
Despite Bill Belichick's exceptionally poor track record drafting receivers the Patriots may decide to go that direction anyway because they are well-positioned to land any of the top prospects. There are no receivers considered true top-10 talents which means the Pats should have their pick when the clock starts on No. 14. Smith-Njigba shares many similar physical traits to Meyers-- both are on the skinnier side with slow 40 times but know how to get open. The primary difference is that JSN put up huge numbers at a top program in college. He can produce at a high level. He may not be a gamebreaker but if the Pats are going to the draft for receiver help he'll likely be the best option available.