Patriots should take a page out of Bills playbook when it comes to receiving corps

When it comes to handling the wide receiver position, it might not be the worst idea for the Patriots to borrow a page from the Buffalo Bills playbook.
Heading into the 2020 season, the Bills had a decent group of receivers to complement their young gun quarterback Josh Allen, but didn’t have a game-changer in the stable.
They didn’t have that stud who would not only make the receiving corps better collectively, but also help Allen develop into a top 10 quarterback in the league.
So during the offseason, Bills GM Brandon Beane went out and got one.
Beane secured the missing piece to the offense as the Bills sent a boatload (their first round pick in the 2020 draft, plus fourth-, fifth- and sixth-round picks) to the Vikings for Stefon Diggs.
Watching the Bills offense, he’s been worth every draft pick.
Offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has been like a kid in a candy store, planning and plotting the Bills offense with Diggs, Cole Beasley, who is one of the best slot receivers in the game, Gabriel Davis and tight end Dawson Knox.
The Bills can run the football with Devin Singletary, but their offense is so much more explosive and difficult to defend with Diggs, who has set new personal receiving highs, while also breaking Eric Moulds’ franchise record for catches in a single season.
His 111 catches for 1,314 receiving yards is third-best in the league behind DeAndre Hopkins and Travis Kelce.
The larger point here is Diggs’ impact, and how much his presence has helped Allen develop into an elite quarterback. Allen just received his third AFC Player of the Week award, which was unfathomable last year.
Of course, Allen has worked hard to improve his issues with accuracy, but the addition of Diggs has not only provided him with a deep threat, but opened up avenues for everyone else, given the attention he draws.
In an offense-driven league, having a top-notch group of receivers is a must.
Now, the Patriots aren’t a “missing piece” away with the offense. They have several positions to fix. But after landing the next quarterback, one who can presumably throw the football, the weapons need to be augmented, and that starts with a bonafide top-end receiver or two.
Whether via free agency, where they have money to spend, or the draft, landing that game-changer is paramount.
ESPN analyst Damien Woody agrees the Patriots need to attack free agency or even pull off a trade like the Bills did with receiver in mind. High-end receivers don’t come cheap, but the Patriots need to take a serious look at adding a top gun.
“Wide receiver is the one position they really haven’t developed since Bill Belichick has been there. If you’re the Patriots, would you give up an asset to try and trade for a big-time player?” said Woody. “We know what the cap situation is going to be this offseason. There’s a lot of teams that’s going to have to make tough decisions with the cap probably going down, and the Patriots are in prime position with their cap space to be able to take advantage of that. I look at that as an avenue to get better on offense.”
The list of wide receivers headed to free agency includes many that would get the ball rolling and provide the type of boost the Patriots need.
The higher-priced wideouts include Will Fuller, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Allen Robinson and JuJu Smith-Schuster.
A notch below are Nelson Agholor, Keelan Cole, Corey Davis, T.Y. Hilton, Marvin Jones, Curtis Samuel and Sammy Watkins.
So there are plenty of free agent possibilities to add to the in-house group.
Jakobi Meyers is currently the leading receiver on the team. He’s hauled in 49 passes for 616 yards. In a perfect world, he’d be a No. 3 receiver, not the No.1.
Behind him are Damiere Byrd (45 catches, 590 yards, 1 TD) and N’Keal Harry (30 catches, 289 yards, 2 TDs).
Julian Edelman, their top receiver entering the year, has been hobbled with a knee problem, and hasn’t played since Week 7 against the 49ers. It’s tough to know what his future holds.
“They need weapons. They need guys that can scare you,” said Woody. “Scheme can only take you so far. You need guys that can beat you one-on-one. They need guys on the perimeter that can create some mismatches. They need guys that can get it done, guys that can legitimately scare you.”
Obviously, Cam Newton’s erratic arm hasn’t helped. But any quarterback would be helped by having at least one wideout the opposition has to pay attention to. Currently, the Patriots have none across the board, and that includes at tight end.
The Patriots are 30th in passing, 24th in total offense and 27th in points per game. All they have to do is look at how much Diggs has helped the Bills offense, and helped Allen for the new AFC East champs.
Even Belichick admitted to being impressed.
“They’ve scored a lot of points. They’re good in the red area, they move the ball, they get the ball in the end zone,” Belichick said Wednesday during a video conference. “They’re a very explosive team. They’re averaging 35 points a game the past couple months, so they’ve been really impressive.”
Unlike the unit in Foxboro.

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