The New England Patriots have one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. After the struggles they had with their passing offense last season, they're largely expected to look for ways to upgrade the position.
While the Patriots could look to target one of the 2021 NFL Draft class' top-five WRs with their first-round pick, they could also be aggressive in looking for veteran help to give the team a sure-fire No. 1 receiver. Allen Robinson represents the pass-catcher likely to get the most attention on the free-agent market, but trading for one is possible as well.
And if the Pats want to shoot high on the trade market, they could go after New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas. As Albert Breer explained on Arbella Early Edition Friday night, the Saints are dealing with some salary cap issues that could encourage them to give up Thomas in the right deal.
"The Saints have huge cap problems. They figure to be $60 or $70 million over the cap, "Breer said. "So how about trading for Michael Thomas? If you want to solve your receiver issue once and for all, like you may have to give up a second or a third-round pick to get him, but a lot of the bonus money has already been paid out, so you'd be able to get him at a discounted rate for a No. 1 receiver."
Thomas had a tough year for the Saints in 2020. He played in just seven games amid injuries and a one-game suspension. He was solid when on the field and caught 40 passes for 438 yards, but he didn't catch a touchdown until the team's first playoff game against the Chicago Bears. And in the Saints' loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Thomas was held to zero catches.
That said, Thomas is just a year removed from leading the NFL in catches (149) and receiving yards (1,725), so the soon-to-be 28-year-old still is a clear-cut top receiver with plenty left in the tank. Plus, Breer thinks "he fits in" with the Patriots team.
"I think culturally, he fits in," Breer said. "He's tough, he's competitive, he's a little bit of a weird personality. But I certainly think if you wanted to solve your issue of not having a No. 1 receiver once and for all, I think Michael Thomas, stylistically as a receiver, is exactly what the Patriots would be looking for."
There's no question that Thomas would be an upgrade for the Patriots. During his career-best 2019 campaign, Thomas came close to matching what all Patriots WRs accomplished last year combined.
|Patriots WRs ('20)||Stat||Michael Thomas ('19)|
So, if Thomas does stay healthy and returns to his peak, he could give the Patriots a top-five NFL receiver -- if they go after him.
However, there is a question about whether or not Thomas would actually be available, as the Saints could opt to go in a different direction to clear some cap space. Still, if he does hit the trade market, Bill Belichick and the Patriots shouldn't be afraid to pay the price required to get him.
Either way, this is another potential name for Patriots fans to keep an eye on during what should be a busy offseason for the team.