Calvin Ridley headlines potential WR trade targets
Four wide Patriots could target via trade this offseason originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Wide receiver is one of many positions the New England Patriots could use an upgrade this offseason. For Mac Jones to take the next step in the second year of his promising NFL career, it will be important to surround the young quarterback with talent.
The Patriots will have a slew of intriguing options in free agency as well as the 2022 NFL Draft, but the trade market offers exciting possibilities as well. Given the high prices of free agents and Bill Belichick’s checkered history of drafting receiverships, a trade might actually be the better option.
Best NFL Free Agents 2022 by Position: QB | RB | WR | AND | OL | DL | EDGE | LB | BC | S | K | Top 25 overall
So if the Patriots scour the trade market looking for a new wide, who could they be targeting? Here are four WRs that make sense as potential adjustments in New England.
Ridley was drafted to Alabama in 2018 and impressed by the Falcons in his first three NFL seasons. The 27-year-old caught 26 touchdown passes in that span and was named a second-team All-Pro after a spectacular 2020.
After five games in 2021, Ridley has decided to step away from playing to deal with his mental health. He’s missed the rest of the season and recent reports say the talented receiver is looking for a ‘fresh start’.
If the Patriots pursue a deal for Ridley, he would cost at least a second-round draft pick. ESPN’s Bill Barnwell recently floated a hypothetical Ridley trade to New England in which sending second-rounder and rusher Chase Winovich to Atlanta closes the deal.
Given Ridley’s talent, age and upward trajectory over his first three seasons, a trade for Ridley is one Bill Belichick and Co. should consider. However, it should be noted that Ridley carries a cap of $11.1 million in 2022 and is expected to become a free agent in 2023.
Landry, 29, is coming off a bad season in Cleveland. That shouldn’t deter the Patriots from pursuing the five-time Pro Bowler.
Earlier this offseason, Landry wrote a series of tweets in which he noted playing through injury in 2021. He also clarified his feelings about continuing his career with the Browns.
“I put the ball in CLE’s court telling them I’d like to stay but if not I have enough confidence in myself to be healthier this year and go from there. forward to help do my part to win a championship elsewhere,” he wrote.
There is reason to believe that New England would be the perfect “elsewhere” for Landry. The LSU product would be affordable as he enters the final year of his contract, and he would slip right into the slot as a go-to option for Jones.
Like Landry, Cooks’ days with Houston are likely numbered as he enters the final year of his contract. Maybe a return to Foxboro is in order.
Cooks, 28, caught 90 passes for 1,037 yards and six touchdowns last season with Tyrod Taylor and rookie Davis Mills throwing the ball to him. The speedy wide presence on the outside is something Jones missed during his rookie campaign.
Trading Cooks would clear $8.7 million in cap space for the Texans, so he seems like one of the more realistic options on this list. The veteran’s familiarity with the New England system certainly doesn’t hurt either.
Isabella, a second-round selection in the 2019 draft, would have been cleared to seek a trade out of Arizona on Wednesday.
The UMass product Amherst was never successful with the Cardinals, but was considered a fit for the Patriots with his elite speed on the outside. He ran a 4.31-second 40-yard sprint at the NFL Combine and once drew comparisons to Cooks and Kansas City Chiefs star Tyreek Hill.
Clearly Isabella would benefit from a change of scenery. The 25-year-old was buried on the depth chart in 2021, appearing in just eight games and catching just one pass for 13 yards. At this point in her career, Isabella has 31 receptions for 426 yards and three touchdowns. Maybe playing for Belichick is the fresh start he needs.