By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- With two straight wins and some winnable game on the horizon, the Patriots are heading in the right direction. And though the team -- like most in the NFL -- didn't add at the trade deadline, a pair of potential game-changing receivers presents an intriguing opportunity to add some pop to the offense.
In one case, a player is available. In another, a player seems like he may soon become available. Both are big names, and both are sure to draw varying levels of interest around the league.
The available player is DeSean Jackson, the veteran burner who asked the Rams to release him after he taken taken less than 20 percent of the team's offensive snaps through eight games.
The player who will seemingly become available is Odell Beckham Jr., who was "excused" from Browns practice this week the day after his father posted a video of Baker Mayfield failing to find him when he's open.
On the one hand, the Patriots may want to be careful with any moves that upset or alter the week-to-week growth and development of rookie quarterback Mac Jones. On the other hand, Bill Belichick has never been afraid to shake things up midseason if the right situation presented itself.
Adding a player like Jackson or Beckham could open up a lot of things in the Patriots offense, which has Jakobi Meyers, Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor but not a whole lot after that at the receiver spot.
It's fair to wonder whether Jackson can be an impact player. He's 34 (he'll turn 35 on Dec. 1), and he played in just 18 games in the previous three seasons. He does have a 75-yard catch this year, and he had an 81-yard reception last year, proving he's still got the jets that made him a three-time Pro Bowler. But he's also caught just 31 passes (for 616 yards and four touchdowns) since 2019, evidence that he's not a consistent performer at this stage of his career.
That being said, might the deep threat of Jackson open up some plays for the Patriots' offense a few times a game?
Beckham would come with some question marks as well. The most pressing would of course be whether or not he's available. Reports say, after being "excused" from practice for a second straight day on Thursday, the team and the receiver are "working toward a split."
Beckham tore his ACL last season, limiting him to just seven games. He caught 23 passes for 319 yards and three touchdowns in that time. This year, in six games played, he's caught 17 passes for 232 yards with no touchdowns.
Beckham's undergone multiple surgeries in recent years -- ankle surgery in 2017, core muscle surgery in 2020, ACL surgery later that same year -- but he's still young. He'll turn 29 this week. And after averaging more than 1,200 yards in his first five healthy NFL seasons, he must be motivated to prove he still has superstar capabilities. And while the Patriots may not have the championship shine that they had during the Tom Brady era, playing for Belichick could present enough of a high-profile opportunity for Beckham to build up his value to the rest of the league. (New Orleans or Kansas City might be more attractive spots, if the Saints or Chiefs are interested.) Beckham has also apparently wanted to play for Belichick for some time, so if the price is right, the feeling is sure to be mutual.
For now, much of the matter is hypothetical. It's most likely that neither player will land in New England. But considering the moves that Belichick has made over the years, it's always best to be ready for a surprise.
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