The Patriots certainly raised eyebrows with the players they let walk on cut-down day Tuesday. But they also sent a strong message to the rest of the NFL on one player they kept: wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.
According to Jeff Howe of The Athletic, New England had received calls on potential trades for Bourne, but was telling teams he’s not going anywhere. As Howe put it: “The Patriots have gotten calls about WR Kendrick Bourne, but they’ve told teams he’s not available, per sources.”
Bourne is coming off a disappointing showing in 2022, when he logged 35 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown. He signed with the Patriots on a three-year eal worth $22.5 million before the 2021 season after playing well in San Francisco in 2020 (49 catches, 667 yards, two touchdowns). In his first year with the Patriots, Bourne caught 55 passes for 800 yards and five touchdowns.
He caught three passes for 34 yards in the preseason, all in the abbreviated win over Green Bay.
Bourne Hoping New Approach Boosts Numbers
There is some hope that Bourne can turn himself around this season. He was swimming upstream last year, as the Patriots offense was, generally, a mess, led by former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. But this offseason, Bourne talked about taking a new approach with his body and approach, especially as he ages (Bourne turned 28 this month).
He said he was eating too much fast food and not paying enough attention to post-workout recovery.
“Last year, what I went through, it was a struggle for me personally,” he said, per ESPN.com. “I was going through a lot, not doing the right things, I wasn’t taking care of my body, I wasn’t getting treatment. It taught me what not to do in a sense. It was rough, but I’m thankful for last year.”
There’s no telling whether Bourne’s new approach will yield on-field results, but he says he is focused on doing the right things for himself, physically.
“Better sleeping, nutrition, rehabbing — all the little things,” Bourne said. “I’ve found the sauna has helped me a lot, which I never believed in until I started to get in there and it helped the soreness. Getting massages all the time.
“Now my body is able to endure more, and as I get older, I understand I need to do more. I should have been doing this my whole life, but I definitely feel the best I’ve ever felt and I’m happy about it.”
Patriots’ WR Group Is Lacking
Bourne figures to be among the Top 3 in a wide receiver grouping that is headlined by DeVante Parker and JuJu Schuster-Smith, a bunch that seems to lack a quality big-play threat. The Pats made no cuts at the receiver spot, with last year’s oft-injured second-round pick, Tyquan Thornton, hoping for better production and a pair of rookies—sixth-round pick Kayshon Boutte and undrafted free agent Demario Douglas—hoping to have an impact, too.
Back in June, Pro Football Focus ranked all 32 receiver groups in the NFL, and the Patriots landed 29th. The site said of the New England pass-catchers:
The Patriots moved on from Jakobi Meyers but were able to replace him with JuJu Smith-Schuster. They also have Tyquan Thornton, Kendrick Bourne and DeVante Parker. We need to take into account (tight ends) Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki, but overall, it’s just not a group that strikes much fear in the eyes of defensive coordinators. Only Parker and Smith-Schuster earned a 70.0-plus receiving grade in 2022.
Bourne did not his 70. He graded out at 63.6, according to PFF. That could change this year, however.
Sean Deveney is a Heavy editor with a focus on the NBA and basketball in general. He has covered the league on a national basis for 20 years and has interviewed stars from Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jerry West to Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant to LeBron James and Kevin Durant. He is the author of seven nonfiction books, including “Fun City,” “Before Wrigley became Wrigley,” and “Facing Michael Jordan.” More about Sean Deveney
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