Patriots Linked to Free-Agent WR and Former 1st-Round Pick

The New England Patriots spent a lot of money gearing up in the passing game this offseason. They signed Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor and Jonnu Smith. This spring, it’s unlikely that we’ll see a similar spending spree on their side.

However, there is one serious wide receiver target who might be able to change the Patriots’ passing game. This will also give Mac Jones the sort of downfield threat and red zone target he didn’t have in his rookie season.

On a recent episode of Heavy presents…I’m Just Saying, Paul Esden Jr. mentioned Los Angeles Chargers free-agent WR Mike Williams and said he can be Mac Jones’ potential “new best friend.”

“I’m sick and tired of looking at the New England Patriots wide receivers with all these random go-go gadget toys like Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor,” Esden said. “It is time to get a guy that can give Mac Jones a big boy!”

The “big boy” the Patriots have on their roster at wide receiver is the 6’3″ 225-pound N’Keal Harry. However, Harry hasn’t really proven himself since the team took him in the first round with the 32nd overall pick back in 2019. He had just 12 receptions for 184 yards in 2021 as injuries (he missed 5 games) and lackluster play continued to keep him from reaching his potential.

In three seasons, Harry score modest totals of 57 receptions for 598 yards and just 4 TDs in his career. Is there someone else that can give the Patriots what Harry has failed to provide?

“That boy, no man, is part of that 6-foot-5 body is none other than Mike Williams of the Los Angeles Chargers,” Esden claims. “That wingspan, a LeBron-James-type wingspan, would be helpful. I know Mac Jones is accurate, but if he ever isn’t, it won’t matter. Just throw it in the general direction of Williams and he’ll come down with it. He has some Larry Fitzgerald to his game in that respect, just throw it up there and he’ll find a way to come down with it.”

Mike Williams Has a Valuable Skill Set

It is hard find a receiver with Williams’ downfield skill set. According to his scouting report from Pro Football Focus, Williams dominates at the catch point, uses his giant frame to tower over defensive backs, has a huge catch radius and wing span. He can also track the ball exceptionally downfield, making him a constant threat on fades and back-shoulder throws.

Harry was expected to be this kind of player too, but he hasn’t panned out. Williams on the other hand, has been borderline spectacular. The 27-year-old is coming off a breakout season in 2021. Having collected a career-high 76 catches and 1,146 receiving yards, as well as 9 TD receptions, Williams would instantly become the Patriots’ top pass-catching option.

What kind of impact will that have on New England’s overall attack?

“The other thing is the ripple effects that could have on the rest of the Patriots offense,” Esden responds. “Williams had a slow start to his career as a former top-10 pick with the injuries, but once he got halfway decent quarterback play we saw what he can be in the NFL. This is going to make life a lot easier having this man on offense. I think Mac Jones has a new best friend in Mike Williams.”

Even if the Patriots don’t make any other significant additions to their offense through free agency, they would be a far more dangerous team with the ball if Williams was in the lineup.