Kayshon Boutte

Patriots Rumors: Maye, WRs, Hightower

As organized team activities have progressed in New England, it’s looking more and more like Jacoby Brissett may be the team’s starter under center in Week 1. Naturally, some have asked if that makes No. 3 overall pick Drake Maye the primary backup at the position or an emergency option to stash for development purposes.

According to Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald, Maye likely won’t need to sit and develop. In fact, Kyed reports that some in the building viewed Maye as a prospect ready to start right away as a rookie during the draft cycle. Even though Brissett is taking the lion’s share of first-team reps in OTAs so far, there’s plenty of time until training camp and the regular season for Maye to potentially take over the starting gig.

And, should Maye not beat out Brissett for the job, this also means that Maye likely won’t be stashed to sit and develop but, instead, will be the team’s primary backup behind Brissett. Kyed also notes that it makes more sense for the Patriots to stash and develop rookie sixth-round pick Joe Milton than it does to hold on to Bailey Zappe as an emergency third option. The team has seen what Zappe can provide up to this point, and while he won’t garner outstanding trade value, he should return something as an upgrade to many backup situations around the league.

Here are a few other rumors coming out of New England:

  • The Patriots’ wide receivers room is currently packed, while only six or seven players will likely end up on the 53-man roster to start the season. Kyed lists rookies Javon Baker and Ja’Lynn Polk as locks to make the team alongside Kendrick Bourne, Demario Douglas, and K.J. Osborn, leaving only one or two spots left for the rest of the group. That leaves a number of intriguing names in a precarious position including former Pro Bowler JuJu Smith-Schuster, former first-round pick Jalen Reagor, recent second-round pick Tyquan Thornton, and last year’s sixth-round pick Kayshon Boutte. As of right now, none of those four players are viewed as locks to make the roster in 2024.
  • New head coach Jerod Mayo and leading personnel executive Eliot Wolf are heading a new-look team in New England this offseason. One of the ways in which Mayo is attempting to bring the team into this new era is by appealing to the shorter attention spans of younger players. According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, Mayo has tossed the old method of marathon meeting sessions, instead favoring a new philosophy of “25-minute mental sprints” before taking short breaks. It reportedly heightens the pace of meetings while allowing for appropriate rest time in between.
  • Since leaving the NFL in 2021, former Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower has enjoyed retirement. While he still shared a love and knowledge for the game, he had little interest in leaving the life he was living behind. In an interview, Hightower claimed that his former college coach Nick Saban and Mayo were the only two names that could’ve drawn him out of retirement onto the sideline, per Howe. It just so happened that his close friend and former teammate became the head coach of their old team and offered him Mayo’s old job of inside linebackers coach. It was one of the very few offers Hightower wouldn’t say “no” to.

Patriots Submit Offer To WR Calvin Ridley

The Patriots’ reported interest in receiver Calvin Ridley is very real. According to Josina Anderson, the Patriots have made an offer to the free agent wideout.

[RELATED: Patriots Pursuing Calvin Ridley]

The organization is also opting to “keep a deal on the table” following today’s reports that focused on the interesting logistics of the previous Jaguars/Falcons trade. If Jacksonville re-signs Ridley before 2pm tomorrow, they’ll owe Atlanta a second-round pick. If they wait beyond that deadline and re-sign the receiver, the Jaguars would only owe the Falcons a third-round pick.

This led some pundits to believe that Ridley was destined to return to Jacksonville and was simply biding his time to provide his organization with better draft capital. However, it sounds like the Patriots are still very much in the hunt, and it’ll be interesting to see how negotiations progress over the next 24 hours.

New England holds more than $80MM in cap space, and with Ridley sitting atop the WR market, it only made sense that the Patriots would target the free agent for their new-look offense. The team moved on from Mac Jones and added veteran Jacoby Brissett, and the organization appears to be leaning towards selecting a QB with the third-overall pick. Ridley would represent an intriguing target for whoever is under center for the Patriots in 2024 and beyond.

The Patriots’ receivers struggled in 2023, although that was partly due to the team’s inconsistent play at quarterback. The team has already moved on from DeVante Parker and is looking to unload JuJu Smith-Schuster, leaving plenty of question marks atop the depth chart. The team did agree to new deals with Kendrick Bourne and Jalen Reagor, but the rest of their depth chart features unproven options like Demario Douglas, Tyquan Thornton, and Kayshon Boutte.

Patriots WR Kayshon Boutte Arrested On Gambling Charges

Patriots wide receiver Kayshon Boutte was arrested on two gambling charges, NOLA.com’s Wilson Alexander reports. The 2023 sixth-round pick faces a felony charge of computer fraud and a misdemeanor of gaming prohibited by someone under 21.

Boutte allegedly used an alias to bet on sports in Louisiana while underage. This scheme is alleged to include more than 8,900 bets, per Alexander. At least 17 of those were on college football games, with six of them being on LSU contests. Boutte, a former five-star recruit, played at LSU from 2020-22. These alleged wagers took place during Boutte’s time at the SEC school.

The Patriots drafted Boutte, 21, last year and used him sparingly. He caught two passes for 19 yards as a rookie. Acknowledging the arrest, the NFL did not comment on the matter, via NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. These bets coming while Boutte was in college separate this case from recent violations by NFL players. An arrest also provides an interesting distinction here.

Regardless of when the bets took place, the NFL has seen a number of players encounter issues on the gambling front over the past two years. Calvin Ridley‘s 2022 suspension preceded a host of 2023 bans, including those handed out to Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers, Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams and Titans tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere. Broncos defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike incurred a season-long ban for betting on NFL games, but the Iowa State alum is also accused of betting on Cyclones games during his time in Ames. The latter component made the 2021 Denver draftee the subject of a criminal investigation as well.

Given Boutte’s minimal role on the 2023 Pats and new coaches coming in, it is safe to say the former top-tier recruit’s career is in jeopardy.

Patriots Notes: Vrabel, Klemm, Onwenu, Boutte

With the Patriots in the midst of their worst season in decades, there’s been plenty of speculation regarding Bill Belichick‘s future in New England. If either Belichick or the organization decides to move on, it’s been assumed that de facto defensive coordinator Jerod Mayo would take over as head coach.

However, there are some whispers that Patriots brass could actually look towards another former linebacker to succeed Belichick. According to ESPN’s Dan Graziano, there are “definitely people” within the Patriots organization who would be receptive to a Mike Vrabel hiring. Ben Volin of the Boston Globe previously described a Vrabel pursuit as a “home run” option for the organization.

Of course, if the Patriots were interested in hiring Vrabel, they’d have to convince the Titans to let go of their head coach. Vrabel signed an extension with the organization in 2022 and is presumably under contract for at least a few more years. If the Titans get a hint that the Patriots will make a serious pursuit, there’s a good chance they’ll try to grab some compensation from New England.

On the flip side, the Patriots could just wait for the Titans to make a change. The Titans may finish with their second-straight losing season, and Vrabel hasn’t won a playoff game since the team’s 2019 run. Ownership may decide to pull the plug on their coaching staff, much like they did with GM Jon Robinson last December.

More notes out of New England…

  • Patriots offensive line coach Adrian Klemm is expected to be away from the team “for a little while” while dealing with a personal health issue, Belichick told reporters (via ESPN’s Mike Reiss). The former Patriots second-round pick joined New England’s coaching staff this past offseason after having spent the 2022 campaign as Oregon’s associate head coach/OL coach. Assistant OL coach Billy Yates will likely take on more responsibility while Klemm is out.
  • Michael Onwenu has bounced around the offensive line throughout his career. After excelling at right tackle as a rookie, the sixth-round pick was moved to left guard during his sophomore season. He was switched to right guard in 2022 and went on to earn Pro Bowl honors, and he stuck at the position to begin the 2023 season. However, recent injuries and OL inconsistencies have forced Onwenu back to RT, and Belichick told reporters that the organization is comfortable keeping the fourth-year player at the position (per Doug Kyed of the Boston Herald).
  • Sixth-round rookie WR Kayshon Boutte hasn’t been active since he played 55 snaps in Week 1. Following Kendrick Bourne‘s season-ending injury, Boutte was expected to see a larger role on offense, but he proceeded to be inactive in Week 9 against the Commanders.There’s been some speculation that the rookie could be in Belichick’s doghouse after failing to get a second foot down on a crucial drive in Week 1, but Boutte dismissed that notion. “I don’t feel like I’m in the doghouse,” he said (via Reiss). “Looking back at the first game, I know that I can get open. I know how to create separation. That’s why I’m comfortable with myself.”
  • We learned earlier today that cornerback J.C. Jackson won’t be traveling to Germany for New England’s matchup against the Colts this weekend.

AFC Notes: Raiders, Pats, Jets, Bengals

As we inch closer to the start of the regular season, the Raiders‘ eventual 53-man roster is starting to come into focus. Two players in particular appear to be securing their positions for the team’s lineup come Week 1, according to Tashan Reed of The Athletic.

Wide receiver DeAndre Carter has definitely taken advantage of his opportunities throughout camp this preseason. In the team’s second preseason game, Carter started in the slot in place of Hunter Renfrow, who sat out for the game. He didn’t put up notable stats from the position, but he really shined in a special teams role. He had a strong opening kick return and was inches away from a punt return for a touchdown, as well. The coaches’ faith in him to start in place of Renfrow combined with his return ability has virtually cemented his spot on the roster, according to Reed.

Another player on the rise is veteran guard Greg Van Roten, who seems to have surpassed Alex Bars for the starting job at right guard. Van Roten started the team’s most recent preseason game at right guard for a single series before being replaced by Bars, signifying the changing of the guard, pun not intended. Bars, who started most of last season for the team at right guard, may be in danger of failing to make the 53-man roster if he keeps sliding down the depth chart.

Here are a few more roster rumors from around the league as the preseason begins its close:

  • The Patriots have struggled as of late with drafting wide receivers. They’re looking to buck that trend this season. In a room that was originally looking weak when the team missed out on free agent De’Andre Hopkins, New England is newly flushed with possibilities. The team lacks elite top end talent, but behind JuJu Smith-Schuster and DeVante Parker, the Patriots have a surprising number of options. Kendrick Bourne has seemingly secured a role as the team’s third wideout with a great camp, according to Ben Volin of The Boston Globe, and behind Bourne, rookie sixth-round picks Demario Douglas and Kayshon Boutte have made strong cases for roster spots themselves with impressive camps. Even undrafted rookie quarterback Malik Cunningham has reportedly shown enough versatility and promise on offense and special teams to make a case for a roster spot.
  • With the recent acquisition of free agent Dalvin Cook, the Jets top-two running backs are clear as day, but in the process, the extra body has made things a bit crowded in the position room. Brian Costello of the New York Post believes that rookie fifth-round pick Israel Abanikanda is likely safe, leading to a battle for the likely last roster spot between Michael Carter and Zonovan Knight. Seemingly, Carter is safe. He’s got more starting experience on the team than Knight and didn’t suit up for the Jets’ most recent preseason game, a likely indication that the coaches have seen what they need to see. Knight played last week and fumbled. He’s had good moments throughout training camp, but his future may lie on the practice squad this season.
  • The Bengals have a clear TE1 and a likely TE2 coming into the end of the preseason in Irv Smith Jr. and Drew Sample, but there’s a chance that TE3 isn’t on the roster, according to The Athletic’s Paul Dehner Jr. Last season’s TE3 Mitchell Wilcox has a decent shot at a roster spot, as does the undersized Tanner Hudson, who has impressed with some nice hands throughout camp. Devin Asiasi, Nick Bowers, and Christian Trahan remain as options, as well, but don’t have the strongest chances at a roster spot. Dehner predicts that Cincinnati may take to the open market after cut day, aiming to pull in any of several experienced tight ends that may find themselves on the roster bubble.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/4/23

After the Panthers got the ball rolling yesterday, a number of teams started signing draft picks to their rookie contracts today. We’ve compiled all of the four-year, later-round signings below:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

LSU WR Kayshon Boutte To Enter Draft

LSU wideout Kayshon Boutte had initially committed to remaining in school for the 2023 college season instead of turning pro. As he confirmed (on Twitter) recently, however, he has since reversed course and will be eligible for the 2023 draft.

Boutte joins fellow Tigers Jaray Jenkins, B.J. Ojulari and Mekhi Garner as players forgoing their final years of college eligibility to enter the NFL. The 6-0, 190-pounder had stated his intent to return less than one month ago, but his change of heart has been well-received by the team.

“We support Kayshon and his decision,” head coach Brian Kelly said in a statement. “He went through a thoughtful process and ultimately decided this was in his best interest. We appreciate all he did during his time at LSU and wish him well.”

Boutte garnered plenty of attention during his freshman campaign. The former five-star recruit posted 45 catches for 735 yards and five touchdowns in 10 games that year. His 16.3 yards-per-catch average that season demonstrated his ability as a vertical threat, but that figure fell to 13.4 in 2021, as did his other totals in a campaign which was limited to only six games played due to an ankle injury.

He suited up for 11 contests this year, one during which expectations were once again very high. However, Boutte had an underwhelming start to the campaign, and was involved in transfer rumors early on. He was able to rebound to an extent in the latter stages of the season, including a 107-yard performance in the SEC title game. Overall, he finished with 528 yards and a pair of score on 48 receptions.

Boutte was widely regarded as a first-round prospect entering the season, but his underwhelming stats have steadily hurt his draft stock. Still, the ability he showed when healthy over the course of his college career has him considered amongst the top options at his position for this year’s class. Boutte is the fifth-ranked receiver in ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.’s latest breakdown as bowl season continues. That could put Boutte in contention to hear his name called on Day 1 despite the inconsistencies of the past few months.