If the New England Patriots are going to be a strong contender in the AFC, they need receiver DeVante Parker to make huge strides in 2022.
The New England Patriots are banking on DeVante Parker reaching his ceiling. It’s a bet worth taking.
For New England, the upside is obvious. On Friday, the Patriots traded a 2023 third-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Parker and a 2022 fifth-round choice. Essentially, an elongated pick swap and a salary dump for the Dolphins, who no longer owe the 29-year-old receiver his salaries of $6 and $6.3 million over the next two years.
Yet for the Patriots, it’s an easy decision based on a few factors.
For starters, New England needs more playmakers. Parker has been inconsistent and injured throughout his seven-year career, only playing a full season once and eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving the same amount. Not shockingly, both came in the same campaign in 2019, when Parker posted career-highs in receptions (72), yards (1,202) and touchdown (9).
However, Parker’s other six seasons have ranged from middling to poor. He has never amassed more than 800 yards in any other year, nor has he caught more than four touchdowns. It’s been a struggle to stay on the field as well, with the Louisville product missing 20 games during his time as a pro.
Still, New England sees more ability in the 6-foot-3, 219-pound receiver. Leading up to a game between New England and Miami in 2020, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick offered the following praise of Parker’s game, per ESPN:
“He’s got a very, very good skill set. He’s a big athlete that runs well, has good hands, good run-after-the-catch ability, and good quickness for his size. He presents a lot of problems on deep balls. He’s a big target on the end of routes in-cuts and crossing routes. He’s strong, can break tackles as a catcher or run player, so he attacks all three levels of the defense and can be productive at all three [receiver spots].”
With only Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne highlighting the receiver depth chart in New England, Parker’s arrival at such a meager price point makes sense. If it doesn’t work, move on. If it does, the Patriots nab a contributor from a division rival who can help second-year quarterback Mac Jones take another step forward.
Belichick is gambling with a low investment on a solid upgrade. If it goes bust, fine. If it hits, a nice win for a team in desperate need of one at receiver.