If the New England Patriots want to keep Jakobi Meyers this offseason, they'll likely have to make him one of their highest-paid players.
Meyers is set to become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, and he's considered one of the top wide receivers in a thin 2023 market. That means he and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, should seek a competitive contract in free agency.
How competitive, you ask? ESPN's Mike Reiss cited an NFL executive source who believes a team would need to pay "$ 15 million-plus per year" to sign Meyers.
Next Pats: Rob Gronkowski: Patriots DEFINITELY need to go get a WR like DeAndre Hopkins | Listen & Follow | Watch on YouTube
"If that’s the way it unfolds (and projections don’t always come to reality), some around the NFL don’t see the Patriots retaining Meyers based on their history," Reiss wrote.
Meyers has led New England in receiving yards for three consecutive seasons and was Mac Jones' favorite target in 2022, catching 67 passes for 804 yards and a career-high six touchdowns. Wide receiver is one of the Patriots' most pressing needs this offseason, and losing Meyers would leave Jones and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien without any pass-catchers who strike fear into the opposing defense.
"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."
That said, New England rarely hands out lucrative deals for wide receivers. Nelson Agholor's $ 11 million-per-year deal that expired in 2022 was the most the Patriots have spent at wide receiver in at least a decade, and only three players on the entire team are making more than $ 15 million annually (Matthew Judon, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry).
The Patriots face a very important decision about Meyers, and if they don't want to pay up to keep him, they'll need to figure out a Plan B, whether that's adding another talented wide receiver like JuJu Smith-Schuster or Allen Lazard in free agency, trading for a wideout like DeAndre Hopkins, or targeting a pass-catcher in the NFL Draft.
Free agency officially begins Wednesday, March 15, 2023, at 4 p.m. ET.