Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne tore his ACL at the end of October, an injury that had especially poor timing considering his impending free agent. However, the wideout has made it clear that he’s ahead of schedule in his recovery, and he’s eyeing a return to New England in 2024.
Speaking to ESPN’s Mike Reiss, the receiver said he’s expecting to be ready for the start of next season. Bourne also discussed his upcoming unrestricted free agency, with the veteran stating his desire to stick with the Patriots.
“I want to come back [to New England],” Bourne said. “That is a goal of mine. I love being a Patriot — it’s a great environment for a person like me. Being a Patriot helped me grow into the player I am today. I’m thankful for the organization, but you never know. I’ve been in free agency before and I didn’t know what would happen. And I don’t know now.”
After spending the first four seasons of his career with the 49ers, Bourne inked a three-year deal worth up to $22.5MM with the Patriots. The wideout had an up-and-down three years in New England. He finished 2021 with career highs in receptions (55), receiving yards (800), and touchdowns (five). He found himself in the doghouse in 2022, but he rebounded in 2023, averaging a career-high 50.8 yards per game prior to his injury.
The wideout now has to navigate both his injury recovery and his impending free agency. Bourne told Reiss that he has a physical therapist living with him, and his current focus is on strengthening his quadriceps and legs in support of his knee.
“I was in the best shape of my life and the knee slowed me down a lot,” Bourne said. “It’s annoying to have someone always on me and bugging me, but I know what I need to get back to where I was when I got hurt. I’m embracing it now.”
More notes out of New England…
- While it’s uncertain if the Patriots will make a move at general manager, Eliot Wolf is expected to control the 53-man roster for the time being. Reiss has provided a bit more insight, noting Wolf’s ascension is a sign the Patriots are focusing on more of a “Packer-based structure” to their front office. Wolf, the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame executive Ron Wolf, spent more than a decade with Green Bay, and Reiss believes the Patriots are pivoting to a system that values the personnel department’s input vs. the head coach’s final say (a tactic that was impossible with Bill Belichick at the helm). Reiss notes that Wolf was also heavily involved with the head coaching process, and he subsequently worked with Jerod Mayo to fill out the coaching staff.
- Speaking of the front office, the Patriots have added a familiar face to their operation. According to Aaron Wilson of KPRC 2 in Houston, the Patriots have hired executive Bobby Brown for a front office role. Brown previously served as the Patriots associate director of football administration, but he left for the Texans this past season to work alongside his brother, Andrew Brown.
- The Patriots continue to add to their coaching staff. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reports that the team has hired Drew Wilkins as their outside linebackers coach. Wilkins spent more than a decade on the Ravens coaching staff, where he worked alongside current Patriots star linebacker Matthew Judon. Wilkins spent the past two seasons as the Giants OLBs coach, but he was let go following New York’s overhaul of the defensive coaching staff.
- Former Patriots WR Troy Brown has spent the past three seasons as New England’s receivers coach, but with his contract having expired and a new coaching staff in place, his future with the organization is in doubt. Reiss writes that Brown could be one of the few holdovers to stick around in 2024. Alex Van Pelt is now in place as the Patriots offensive coordinator, so there’s a chance the new hire decides to pursue his own WRs coach.