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Perry: What can Patriots do at WR now that Rams signed Allen Robinson?

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The Patriots could run it back with their receiving corps in 2022. They could. Their top three last season were Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor, and they finished with the No. 6 scoring offense in football. 

But do they want to run it back with the same group? Particularly when the lack of a dynamic down-the-field threat made the Patriots a relatively simple passing offense for which to game plan? Particularly with a young quarterback who might be helped by an explosive-play option? 

My understanding is that the Patriots have been on the hunt for wideouts who can give their receiver room more size and more juice to get down the field. 

Unfortunately for them, Allen Robinson -- the best free agent in that mold, a player on whom the Patriots had done extensive research last offseason prior to him receiving the franchise tag in Chicago -- has signed with the Rams.

So... now what? The draft is loaded with receiver talent, but for now let's focus in on free agents.

One name who remains available who I've been told "definitely" fits the type of pass-catcher the Patriots have sought? Green Bay's Marquez Valdes-Scantling. 

Valdes-Scantling checks in at 6-foot-4, 206 pounds and he ran a 4.37-second 40-yard dash coming out of the University of South Florida in 2018. According to Pro Football Focus, he led all receivers in average depth of target in both 2021 (18.4 yards) and 2020 (18.2). 

 

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He would have the length and field-stretching ability that would complement what the Patriots already have on their roster. A hamstring injury last season helped lead to a career-low mark in receptions (26, tying his 2019 total) and targets (48), but he still racked up 16.5 yards per catch. In 2020 his yards-per-catch figure hit 20.9.  

Another much more recognizable name who I've been told would be of interest to the Patriots -- at the right price -- would be Julio Jones. A deal for the future Hall of Famer would have to be relatively cheap light on guarantees, one league source posited, but at 6-foot-3 he ticks the "size" box and still has enough athleticism to threaten secondaries when he's on the field. 

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But Jones' health -- he's missed 14 games the last two seasons -- is something the Patriots would have to vet. He's also not considered to be a consistent practice participant at this point in his career.

"The availability," said one AFC exec, "is an issue." 

Still, at a certain price point, Jones could be the latest late-career star wideout upon whom the Patriots roll the dice. He had 31 catches for 434 yards in 10 games for the Titans last season. 

Jarvis Landry of the Browns also remains available on the free-agent market, though he hasn't been at the top of mind for the Patriots front office. As an undersized -- and at this point in his career not as dynamic -- option, he doesn't quite fit the mold.

But if the Patriots open themselves up to help on the interior, he sounds like their type.

"Tough, dependable, good route runner, good hands," said one AFC evaluator. "Old-man game. Not fast but quick. He's not going to play outside. But he's still a really good football player. I love the guy."