NFL experts see signing Kendrick Bourne as one of the best from the off-season


Bourne has been a consistent force for the Patriots in the passing game this season.

Kendrick Bourne has been Mack Jones’ most reliable receiver this season. Jim Davis/Globe Staff

It has been well documented how much money the Patriots spent last season. But in case you need a refresher, he spent a record $163 million in guaranteed money, agreeing to big-money deals with Matthew Judon, Hunter Henry, Joanu Smith, and Nelson Agholer.

While that group of players made headlines in March, a signing that went under the radar has helped the Patriots a lot this season. Wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who signed a three-year, $15 million deal, has the second most receptions (52), receiving yards (776) and touchdowns (five) on the team this season.

ESPN NFL expert Bill Barnwell, who named Bourne to his “all-underrated team” in November, shared why Bourne was one of the best bargain deals By comparing his output in the NFL to other receivers from the previous season and the Patriots signed.

“Bourne represents the best value out of New England’s off-season spending spree at receivers,” Barnwell wrote. “I have no doubt that quarterback Mack Jones has all been helped by the Giants — and tight end hunter Henry has nine touchdowns — but Henry, Joanu Smith and Nelson Agholor have a combined average annual value of $36 million on deals and 1,261 total yards this season. Bourne’s three-year, $15 million deal, on the other hand, has been a bargain.

“The former 49ers wideout has been the poor man’s Deebo Samuel, racking up 776 yards while adding quietly an impressive 117 rushing yards on 11 carries. He doesn’t have Samuel’s ability to make an impact as a traditional running back, but when If you average 11.8 yards per goal, you’re doing something right. His mark leads the league there, ahead of second-placed guy with 11.6 yards per goal… Samuel. In a league in which a successful free-agent wide receiver signing almost impossibleBourne has been the exception to the rule.”

As Barnewell pointed out, Bourne has really helped the Patriots get the ball down the field this season. Twenty-seven of his 52 receptions have resulted in the first fall. He is ranked 15th in the AFC with six in big catches (receptions over 25 yards). He is ranked 14th in the league in terms of catches per 14.9 yards. Bourne has 367 yards from catches this year, good for the 18th-best mark in the AFC.

In the ground game, six of Bourne’s 11 carries have rocked the Patriots. With Damien Harris’ victory over the Browns in Patriots Week 10, Bourne made the move, running three times for 43 yards.

Bourne also made some notable plays this season for the Patriots coming in last field. Against the Saints in Week 3, Bourne Caught a heavily contested ball and tiptoed it along the edge To score his first touchdown as a Patriot.

His most notable game on the season came in week 6 when he caught a 75-yard touchdown pass in traffic, giving the Patriots a late lead against the Cowboys. New England eventually lost that game, but a week later turned to Bourne for trick play. In Week 7, Bourne threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Agholor on the Patriots’ opening drive in a resounding victory over the Jets.

Bourne did not reach the end zone again until Week 10 against the Browns. In addition to rushing 43 yards in that game, Bourne had four catches for 98 yards—one of them was a 23-yard leaping grab for a touchdown in the Patriots’ 45-7 blowout win.

Overall, Bourne has made life easier for rookie Mac Jones, who has scored a 134.6 passer rating targeting Bourne this season – a team best.