The New England Patriots came into the 2023 offseason knowing they had to upgrade the weapons around quarterback Mac Jones. While some of his issues last season were self-inflicted and because of injury, the lack of impact talent around him certainly didn’t help.
The need for some pass-catching talent became even more pressing early in free agency. New England’s No. 1 receiver last season, Jakobi Meyers, was a free agent and opted to sign a three-year, $33 million deal with the Las Vegas Raiders. Patriots-West as it is becoming known with former Patriots Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels running the show.
The Patriots didn’t waste time replacing Meyers, as they signed JuJu Smith-Schuster, formerly of the Kansas City Chiefs, to a three-year, $33 million deal. He will slide seamlessly into Meyers’ spot in the offense as a slot receiver capable of playing on the perimeter as well.
While Smith-Schuster is a nice addition, it shouldn’t preclude the Patriots from adding more talent to their offense. They should keep their eye out for more talent at the wide receiver position, with one potential target being Brandon Aiyuk of the San Francisco 49ers.
Aiyuk was mentioned as a possible trade target this offseason because of the financial situation staring down San Francisco. They already have multiple high-priced players on the roster and may not be able to afford to extend Aiyuk, who just wrapped up a career season in Year 3.
Developing wide receivers has not been a strong suit for the Patriots, so acquiring a ready-made playmaker would be ideal. Aiyuk is always going to play second-fiddle behind Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, so a change of scenery is something he could be open to.
What would it cost for the Patriots to acquire him? A suggested trade was New England sending their first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, No. 14 overall, to San Francisco in exchange for Aiyuk.
Given what it has cost to acquire wide receivers recently, as Marquise Brown and A.J. Brown were both acquired for first-round picks, this is a fair deal for both teams. The Patriots get a potential No. 1 receiver to pair with Smith-Schuster, Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker while the 49ers get real value for a player that they may not be able to afford long-term.