Hall of Famer Calvin Johnson explains why Pats need a legit No. 1 WR


The New England Patriots need an elite pass catcher.

They haven't had one since Julian Edelman tallied 100 receptions for 1,117 yards and six touchdowns during the 2019 season. Edelman missed 10 games the next season due to injury and retired in April of 2021. 

Over the last three seasons, the Patriots offense has lacked that one player at the skill positions who keeps opposing defensive coordinators up at night. There's no dominant force that causes defenses to overhaul their gameplan to stop.

Next Pats: Calvin Johnson says the Patriots need to get someone to stretch the field | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube

How important is it for the Patriots to find this kind of wide receiver during the 2023 offseason? 

"You have to have someone like that or the defense can force you to play one-dimensional ball," Hall of Fame wide receiver Calvin Johnson told NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry on Friday.

"If you don't have that guy who can create a threat, then the defense will play zone coverage and load the box on you. You have to have someone who's going to make the defense stretch a little bit."

There are some options in the trade market for the Patriots to find a threat on the outside. Arizona Cardinals wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins' name has been in trade rumors quite a bit. Maybe someone like Brandin Cooks of the Houston Texans is available.


But Johnson doesn't think the Patriots should go after a veteran No. 1 wideout. He sees the optimal path for the Patriots at this position being a player who's in (or just coming into) his prime and can grow with the roster for a long time.

"It seems like the Patriots are in a little bit of a -- not a full rebuild because they have some pieces, but I think they need to bring on someone who's going into their prime," Johnson explained. "Be able to try and find that guy like they've been able to do in the past, those gems. I don't know that a D-Hop or somebody who's 10-plus years (into his career) is a guy you want to ride into the future with." 

Teams rarely are willing to trade top-tier wide receivers in their prime, so for the Patriots to acquire one of these players they might need to draft one in the first round next month.

The Patriots own the No. 14 overall pick and could have their choice of the top wideouts in the 2023 class, a group that includes USC's Jordan Addison, TCU's Quentin Johnston and Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba, among others.