With a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Bills eliminating the Patriots from the playoffs, receiver DeVante Parker shined. Parker caught six passes for 79 yards and two touchdowns. In his first season with the Patriots Parker was quiet, with 539 yards and three touchdowns. Parker was signed by the Patriots last offseason in a trade with the Dolphins, in the trade, New England swapped a 2023 third-round pick for Parker and a 2022 fifth-round pick.
The hope for Parker was that he would be a big, tall, contested catch receiver, which he has done a few times during the season, most recently in the Buffalo loss. Parker wrestled the ball away from Buffalo corner Kaiir Elam for a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to make the game 28-23. The Patriots would ultimately fall to the Bills 35-23.
Unfortunately the Patriots have not been able to get the ball to Parker on a consistent basis, with his only other big games being on thanksgiving against the Vikings and a week three matchup against the Ravens. Part of Parker’s lack of production was attributed to his health, which has been a problem for him throughout his career. The Buffalo game marked Parker’s first game back since week 14 against Arizona, where he suffered a concussion. Parker also battled a knee injury he suffered in week eight, which sidelined him for two weeks.
Before coming to the Patriots in 2022, Parker was with the Miami Dolphins for seven seasons, where he put up 4,727 yards and 24 touchdowns. His career with the Dolphins also included an impressive 2019 season, with Parker putting up 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns. Parker was drafted by the Dolphins in 2015 with the fourteenth overall pick out of Louisville. At Louisville, Parker put up 2,775 yards and 33 touchdowns. Parker would use his large frame to box out defenders and go up and make the catch. Parker stands at 6’3 and weighs 218 pounds, making it obvious that he had the size for an NFL-level contested catch monster coming out of college.
Going into the offseason, there are many question marks concerning the Patriots receiving room, with Jakobi Meyers and Nelson Agholor becoming free agents along with the in-season controversy surrounding Kendrick Bourne and his lack of snaps. With Parker still having another year left on his contract that he signed in 2019 with Miami, he appears to be among one of the only receivers besides rookie Tyquan Thornton that’s likely a lock to be returning to New England next season.
Parker’s high snap count in the 2022 season suggests that he will be a piece of New England’s offense heading into the future. After being traded, Parker talked about his longing to play in New England in an interview with ESPN.
“I chose to get traded here, my agent [Jimmy Gould] hit me up, just telling me what the situation was, and the options I had for the teams to go to. The first on my list was the Patriots. I'm just excited we were able to get everything done,” said Parker.
Parker was consistently in the starting lineup for New England this year, and it appears he will be in the same position again next season. With the Patriots finishing 8-9 on the season, it will be interesting to see what they will do in the offseason, with many needs on both sides of the ball. Fans have been clamoring for a true number one receiver among other things, which in theory would be a fine addition to the offense and would take a lot of pressure off receivers such as Parker. Like many things in the offseason, everyone will just have to wait and see.
Make sure to check out fansonlysportz.com for your local sports updates! - WD