FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots have acquired wide receiver DeVante Parker and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick, a move that has a significant trickle-down effect in multiple areas.
WR depth chart: Parker joins a clear-cut top four on the depth chart alongside Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor. This likely means the end of the road for 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry, who already had a difficult time breaking through and now faces increased competition. At the same time, this doesn’t prohibit the Patriots from selecting a receiver in the draft, especially considering Meyers and Agholor are scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the 2022 season. In theory, adding Parker would take immediate pressure off any rookie receiver, and provide insurance/cushion if the team saw value in using the No. 21 overall pick for a player such as Alabama’s Jameson Williams, who is recovering from a torn ACL and might open the year on the PUP/non-football injury list.
Parker’s style of play: At 6-foot-3 and 219 pounds, Parker provides the Patriots something they didn’t have (in part because Harry never panned out): A bigger target who can use his size to win in contested-catch situations. Parker’s performance in the 2019 finale against the Patriots and top cornerback Stephon Gilmore was an example of what he can be when healthy and at his best (8 catches for 137 yards). Pair that with the speed of Agholor (6-0, 198), the versatility/reliability of Meyers (6-2, 200) and interior explosiveness of Bourne (6-1, 190), and it’s a top four that doesn’t have a bona fide star, but features diverse pieces that can potentially create issues for defenses.
Knock on Parker: If he’s healthy. Those are three of the most important words when it comes to Parker, 29, who has battled hamstring issues at times over his career. He has played every game in a season just once. In terms of fitting into the Patriots’ culture, one NFL front-office executive projects no issues. “Quiet, good guy, hard worker, good teammate,” the executive said.
Draft picks: The Patriots now have eight picks entering the 2022 draft — one in each of the first four rounds, two fifths and two sixths. This is significant as the team entered the offseason with just six and has since added two fifth-round picks by dealing starting right guard Shaq Mason and in this deal for Parker. Bill Belichick generally likes to have more picks, which allows for more flexibility trade-wise. Dealing a 2023 third-rounder might be viewed as rich, but the club is expecting a compensatory third-rounder next year after losing cornerback J.C. Jackson in free agency last month. Owner Robert Kraft has expressed the importance of the draft for the team after some lean years in that regard from 2016 to 2020.
Salary-cap dominoes: Acquiring Parker and the remaining two years of his contract — $5.65 million in 2022 and $5.7 million in 2023 — should force the team to create space to accommodate him. The Patriots had $4.19 million in cap space entering the weekend. While not a given, it likely reflects that the Patriots’ major personnel moves are over as the focus turns intently to the draft.