Perry: Odell admitting he was close to becoming a Patriot is a good sign


At least he considered it.

Odell Beckham shared on Monday that the Patriots did, in fact, show interest in trading for him last season when it was clear his time in Cleveland was done. He even went so far as to say that he was "very, very, very, very" close to landing with New England.

Of course Beckham ended up making the right choice based on the fact that he's 60 minutes away from a Super Bowl title, having completely rebuilt his reputation as a tough cover in this league. Living on the outside and beating defensive backs down the field and over the middle -- what helped make him a very rich man as a member of the Giants -- has helped the Rams get to this point. And it will help make him an even richer man this offseason when he hits free agency.

So what are Patriots fans to do with this Beckham-related revelation? They can choose to digest it in one of two ways.

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First, it could be disheartening. Beckham acknowledged that had Tom Brady been in the picture, his decision might've been different. Without Brady moving forward, the Patriots may have a hard time landing talented wideouts who have options.

The more optimistic view, though, might be to focus on the portion of the story where the Patriots concluded they needed an upgrade at receiver to help their young quarterback. There has been for years a feeling that the Patriots don't value a true outside-the-numbers burner. Just how true that notion is depends on the eye of the beholder.

Not only did they give Randy Moss a new contract once he proved he remained one of the best in football, they traded away a first-round pick for Brandin Cooks. Not only did they spend a first-round pick on N'Keal Harry hoping he could be that kind of guy, but they just paid Nelson Agholor like a top-25 wideout in the hopes that he could replicate his 2020 production for the Raiders.

There was an effort made there to stretch defenses horizontally and vertically. That hasn't been an annual pursuit. It took some time in the post-Moss era for the Patriots to nab another hugely-productive "X" receiver. Brandon LaFell helped bridge the gap from when the team went heavy on multi-tight end packages to the Cooks era. But it's a spot the team values.

Why is that good news for the Patriots? It should serve as an indication that they'll continue to try to become more explosive. They see what's happening around the league. They understand how important it is to threaten "every blade of grass" as Ernie Adams, Brady and others have told us over the years. Particularly if they want to continue to lean on their running game. For defenses not to tee off on their backs on early downs, the Patriots need someone who scares those defenses over the top.

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The question is, since Beckham took his talents elsewhere, how do the Patriots get that player? There are a few different avenues.

One would be the draft.

Treylon Burks of Arkansas put up big numbers against top-flight competition and has the size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds), speed and run-after-catch ability that Harry hasn't shown consistently. Drake London of USC is another bigger-framed wideout who could end up as a chunk-play machine as a pro. Chris Olave from Ohio State has the acceleration and route-running ability that any team would covet. But the draft can be a crapshoot, as the Patriots well know.

What about free agency, then?

It's an option. The Patriots can create cap space for themselves in a variety of different ways this offseason, which could make them players for a name wideout on the outside.

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Davante Adams and Chris Godwin will likely want to be paid at or near the top of the market, which makes a pairing with Mac Jones seem unlikely. But there are receivers on a decidedly different tier -- Michael Gallup from the Cowboys or Will Fuller from the Dolphins -- who would be more cost-effective and fill the "X" receiver role held by Agholor last season.

Gallup's price may be suppressed in some ways because he played on a team loaded with receiver talent, bumping his numbers down to a fraction of what they would've been on a less-skilled team. Fuller is constantly injured, but if the Patriots feel as though they can keep him from avoiding avoidable soft-tissue injuries, they could end up with a dynamic down-the-field threat.

The free-agent wideout who would be the most enticing for the Patriots, though, feels like Allen Robinson. The 28-year-old put together career-lows in catches per game (3.2), yards per game (34.2), touchdowns (1) and yards per catch (10.8) last season with rookie quarterback Justin Fields behind center, which means he could be available at a relatively low rate. 

Might he be looking to play on a one-year prove-it deal to help him hit free-agency once more before he hits 30? Even if he wants a longer-term contract, something like what Robert Woods received -- guaranteed money for three years and cap hits in the first two that would be under $10 million ($8.4 million and $5.9 million) -- would be manageable for the Patriots.

The Patriots were after a receiver in Beckham whose stock was diminished because he was in a less-than-ideal situation in Cleveland. Landing a player in a similar scenario, like Robinson, would be right in line with their modus operandi.

They'll have to be willing to pay up, but their pursuit of Beckham proves that they were looking for proven upgrades on the outside.

Now they just have to find the right one.

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