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Should Patriots be willing to move deal No. 34 to land stud WR?

Should Patriots be willing to move deal No. 34 to land stud WR? originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

We’re just under a month into NFL free agency and the New England Patriots still don’t have a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver on their roster.

They reportedly made a competing offer to free agent Calvin Ridley, but he opted to sign with the Tennessee Titans for more money. The Patriots re-signed Kendrick Bourne and added former Vikings KJ Osborn, both of which are good moves, but neither player is an elite playmaker at the position.

The trade market is now the best place for the Patriots to find that stud wide receiver they haven’t had for a long time. And the Patriots have the salary cap space ($47 million, league play Thursday) to make those kinds of upgrades and still have plenty of money left over to sign their rookie class.

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One of the most valuable trade chips the Patriots own is the No. 34 pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. It is the second pick in the second round. Should they be willing to include that pick as part of a package to acquire a star anywhere?

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“Because free agency went the way it did for the Patriots, I would say yes now,” Phil Perry explained on a new episode of NBC Sports Boston’s Patriots talk podcast. “At first, before I really started this offseason, I thought they had to figure out a way to give the guy who ended up in Tennessee (Ridley) all that money. Give him everything he needs to get to New England , and then you have “I have so much wiggle room in the draft. You can use the second-round pick on a receiver because you probably need another. You can use one on an offensive tackle. There are all kinds of ways you can go.”

“But free agency didn’t work out that way, so now I would say yes. Would I trade No. 34 overall for Brandon Aiyuk and give him a ton of money? I would definitely do that. Right now, that’s what I would do.”

Which players could the Patriots potentially consider pursuing on the trade market? There is one specific area Perry would explore first if he were general manager.

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“Where I start is with the players who will become free agents next year, as teams start to anticipate who they will or won’t pay in 2025 and beyond,” Perry said. “So you have to start at the top of the list with Tee Higgins. He’s on the franchise tag, a true X-line receiver. You know what you’re getting there.

“But that free agent class for next year, guys with a year left, is absolutely loaded. It’s Tee Higgins, Keenan Allen, Chris Godwin, Amari Cooper, Diontae Johnson, DeAndre Hopkins if he’s still good. Yeah.” Marr Chase is scheduled to be a free agent, although I think the Bengals will lock him up. Jaylen Waddle, is he shaking loose because the Dolphins decided to pay Tua Tagovailoa and Tyreek Hill and not Tyreek and Waddle? DeVonta Smith, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson .

“It’s a ridiculous list of receivers at this point who will be free agents next season. I would try to make those kinds of calls now. I might cross Diontae Johnson off that list.” I would leave DeAndre Hopkins off that list. But if you could come up with something with Tee Higgins, Chris Godwin, CeeDee Lamb, Justin Jefferson — that’s the kind of big swing I would try right now if I’m new to England.”

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It’s fair to assume that not all of these players will gain access to free agency, especially considering the importance of having an elite roster in the modern NFL. But the Patriots should at least pick up the phone and call some of these teams.

The Patriots could get a pretty good wideout with the No. 34 overall pick, or they could trade the selection for a veteran who is already a very productive player. That’s one of the debates the Patriots’ front office must have as the 2024 NFL Draft approaches.

Also in this episode:

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