Heading into the 2022 off-season, there were many expectations that fans expected the Patriots to meet. Among many of those expectations was the hope that the Patriots find, sign, and solidify a “WR1” on their roster to help out Mac Jones.
But, as days, weeks, and eventually months went by, it was becoming clear to the public that the Patriots had other plans in mind for the off-season. After a large spending spree last off-season, the Patriots were a lot more selective in their spending, and wide receivers were not going to be a part of the small, improvised budget. It seems as if Belichick will elect to sign a receiver next season.
For other teams in need of a wide receiver, this off-season was the complete opposite. Teams like the Raiders, Dolphins, Jaguars, and Rams were ready to spend major money to make sure they had top-tier receiving talent on their roster. How will their actions this season affect Belichick’s actions next season?
Before you are briefed on the receiver transactions that occurred this off-season, first you need to be briefed on how the wide receiver market, or any NFL position market, works.
Let’s say Player A and Player B, who are both quarterbacks and of similar talent levels, are Free Agents. If Player A signs with the Texans for 7 years, $200 million ($28 million/year), then Player B is probably going to want a salary near that, or maybe even exceeding that, since he knows that he deserves what Player A got. So, using Player A’s contract as a baseline, he signs a 5 year, $140 million contract.
As more and more players of different talent levels begin to sign contracts, the market begins to take shape. However, it just takes one bad contract to screw the entire market.
Say Player C, who is a middle-tier starter that does not deserve what Player A or Player B got, enters the market. If a bad General Manager comes by and signs him to a 3 year, $105 million deal, then Player A and Player B will be mad since a QB who is worse than them is making more per year than they are. So, the next time Player A and Player B enter the market, they’ll demand more money than Player C got, ultimately raising the market little by little every few years.
How did it play out this year?
Christian Kirk, a former Texas A&M player, signed a massive deal with the Jaguars earlier this off-season. Kirk, who didn’t even have 1,000 receiving yards or 10 touchdowns last season, signed a deal that gave him an average salary of $18 million per year, along with a signing bonus of $20 million.
For perspective, Davante Adams, one of the best receivers to ever touch a football field, is only making $2 million more than Kirk per year. Sure, Adam’s contract is longer and more secure, but Christian Kirk is nowhere near the level of play Adams is. Frankly, it’s not even close.
How does this apply to the New England Patriots?
In the upcoming year the Patriots will most likely be in the market for an elite-tier receiver. But, the money they will be spending for this receiver may be much higher than expected, largely due to the Kirk deal we talked about before.
There is no way to tell how the rest of the market will play out in the upcoming months, but the best-case scenario for the Patriots is for the market to stay the exact same and for upcoming Free Agents to merely see the Kirk deal as an outlier and a fluke. If that were to happen, then the Patriots may not have to drastically overpay on their next big player.
Luckily for the Patriots, signs are already pointing in the positive direction. Just this week, Hunter Renfrow, a higher-end receiver for the Las Vegas Raiders, signed an extension worth $16 million per year, a salary much more appropriate for his production. If the market can continue to trend in this way, then I’m sure that the Patriots will pay a much more reasonable price to get Mac the help he needs.
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