The Patriots took care of one of their own wide receivers Wednesday, coming to terms on a deal that pushes DeVante Parker‘s contract past 2023. Rather than the contract being a sign the Patriots are steering away from DeAndre Hopkins, the Parker deal may end up helping the team on this front.
Parker’s extension numbers are not out yet, though the initial report indicated the 2022 New England trade acquisition can earn up to $33MM — with up to $14MM guaranteed — on the new pact. But veteran reporter Mike Giardi notes the deal lowered Parker’s cap hit (Twitter link). Considering Parker already was tied to just a $6.2MM 2023 number, it will be interesting to see these new terms. The incentives in Parker’s deal range from playing time-based escalators to performance thresholds, ESPN.com’s Mike Reiss notes, adding the former Dolphins receiver’s 2023 base salary will drop below $5.7MM on this new deal.
As for Hopkins, Giardi adds the Patriots believe they are still in the mix. They hosted Hopkins earlier this month, following the Titans in securing a meeting with the free agent standout. The Parker move does give the Pats two veteran wideouts signed beyond 2023, joining March addition JuJu Smith-Schuster, but the team has not ruled out having two 30-something receivers on its roster.
A 2015 first-round pick, Parker is going into his age-30 season. Hopkins turned 31 earlier this month. Parker and Hopkins are each known more for catch radiuses than separation ability, especially at this point in their respective careers, so seeing them on the same team would represent an interesting configuration for new OC Bill O’Brien‘s offense. Smith-Schuster, 26, has primarily been a slot receiver throughout his career; the ex-Steelers and Chiefs pass catcher would stand to complement a Parker-Hopkins outside duo.
The Pats landing Hopkins would seemingly relegate 2022 second-round pick Tyquan Thornton to a reserve role, though the Baylor product remains an intriguing option after missing a chunk of his rookie year due to injury. Mike Gesicki is also in line to see extensive receiver time, crowding this position group — in the event Hopkins chooses to relocate to Massachusetts.
Kendrick Bourne amassed 800 receiving yards in 2021 before falling out of favor — to some degree, at least — with the coaching staff last season. The free agency addition totaled just 434 yards during a dysfunctional 2022 campaign for the Patriots’ offense. Bourne, who is going into his age-28 season, is signed through 2023. Parker’s deal, however, may put Bourne on New England’s roster bubble, AtoZsports.com’s Doug Kyed notes. The Pats can save $5.4MM by releasing or trading the seventh-year veteran. Trade calls came in on Bourne before the deadline last year; he was believed to be available for “the right price.”
Both the Pats and Titans extended offers to Hopkins, but the 10-year veteran is still waiting for his market to expand. While the Chiefs and Bills — long-rumored suitors who had previously discussed trade terms with the Cardinals — have been quiet here for a stretch, and a Deshaun Watson reunion in Cleveland is looking increasingly unlikely. But the Panthers have emerged as a team to monitor here.