There was initial hope that Bourne had only suffered an MCL injury, as noted by Garafolo’s colleague Ian Rapoport. Instead, the worst-case scenario has now been confirmed by an MRI. The 28-year-old will be sidelined for the remainder of the campaign, something with implications for New England’s passing game but also, potentially, the team’s trade deadline plans.
Bourne had been mentioned as a trade chip in the lead-up to tomorrow’s trade deadline, given his status as a rental. A number of other wideouts have drawn more attention, however, and more recent reports pointed to the Patriots retaining the former UDFA. New England is nevertheless actively seeking out trade partners, and today’s news removes one contributor the team could have moved to attain draft capital from the picture.
After a strong stint with the 49ers as a complementary option in the passing game, Bourne enjoyed a career year in 2021 with 800 yards and five touchdowns. His playing time took a step back the following season, though, leading to questions about his long-term Patriots future. 2023 had seen Bourne take on a larger share of the team’s offense with a 72% snap share, something which yielded an uptick in production. His final statline for the season will sit at 37-406-4.
New England has struggled on offense this season, leading to a fresh round of criticism for quarterback Mac Jones. Part of his inability to take a signficant step forward in Year 3 has been tied to a lack of high-end receiving options, however. Bourne comfortably led the Patriots in receiving yards, and the next-highest WR in that department is sixth-round rookie Demario Douglas. He, along with the likes of JuJu Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker and Tyquan Thornton will need to carry the load moving forward.
With 2023 marking the end of Bourne’s three-year, $15MM Patriots deal, he is set to reach free agency in March. Given the months-long recovery he is now facing, though, his market will no doubt be hindered. In advance of potentially signing elsewhere in the near future, Bourne will turn his attention to rehab while New England will be forced to regroup on offense.