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If Tyler Lockett Is Available, Patriots Need To Pounce

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- The Seattle Seahawks as we once knew them are no more. Russell Wilson was traded on Tuesday, hours before Bobby Wagner was released. Coming off a last-place finish in the NFC West, and having just a single playoff win over the past five years, it appears as though a complete teardown is underway in the Pacific Northwest.

And if that means that Tyler Lockett is now available, then the Patriots ought to be on the phone. With haste.

Of course, if Tyler Lockett is available, then a lot of teams will be on the phone. But looking at it strictly from a New England perspective, the prospect of adding Lockett is surely more appealing than the path of looking to the draft to solve the team's deficiency at the receiver position. Perhaps if the Patriots had the track record of, say, the Pittsburgh Steelers with regard to drafting wide receivers, that wouldn't be the case. But with N'Keal Harry serving as the Patriots' lone first-round pick at receiver during the Bill Belichick era, it requires a certain level of unfounded optimism to believe the team is poised to make an impact addition at the receiver spot in the draft.

Lockett, though, is as much of a sure thing as could be at the position. Lockett started his career by making three straight All-Pro Second Teams as a kick returner, while posting decent receiving stats (averaging 46 receptions, 605 yards and three touchdowns per year). But Lockett elevated his game as a receiver in 2018 and has averaged 1,063 receiving yards and nine touchdowns per season over the past four years. He hit double-digits in receiving touchdowns twice in that span, with 10 touchdowns apiece in the 2018 and 2020 seasons. He hit the 100-reception mark in 2020, and he set a career high with 1,175 receiving yards in his 16 games played last year. He's missed two games in his seven-year career.

While the idea of adding Lockett to Mac Jones' offense, working in conjunction with Kendrick Bourne, is certainly appealing, it may not be possible for such an addition to be imminent -- not for the Patriots and not for anybody. That's because, per Over The Cap, trading Lockett before June 1 would leave $15.2 million in dead money on Seattle's cap in 2022. Trading him after June 1 would lower that dead cap hit number to $3.8 million, a number that would repeat in the following three years as well. The structure of Lockett's contract would almost completely guarantee that he won't be traded prior to June 1, short of a restructure. Contractually, the situation is a little complicated.

But separating from the specifics right now, from a pure football standpoint, Lockett would be a dream for any team to add as he enters his age 30 season. He's been a tremendously productive receiver on a team that's had a suspect offensive line and has had a decent tight end in just one of Lockett's four seasons as a star. To borrow a basketball term, he'd be instant offense for any team that added him to the mix.

Because of that, the price will be high. Perhaps even too high for the Patriots. That part's yet to be determined. For now, though, the preliminary work to gain intel on the possibility of acquiring Lockett ought to get underway if it hasn't already. Lockett is that good.

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