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Free Kayshon Boutte, Requested or Not



New England Patriots WR Kayshon Boutte

New England Patriots rookie wide receiver Kayshon Boutte has been inactive since the season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles. But not playing has not stopped Boutte from getting attention. Three weeks ago, prior to New England’s game Oct. 15 game against the Las Vegas Raiders, there were reports of Boutte taking to Instagram to voice his displeasure about being inactive once again. His reported message: “Free me.”

Patriots Football Now did not run any story on it at the time. Boutte deleted the post immediately, according to the rumors. With no verification, there was no news on it here (though that did not stop several news outlets from running with the story). But at this point, whether the original report was accurate or not, it is time for the Patriots to let Kayshon Boutte play.

In the season opener against Miami, DeVante Parker was out injured. Boutte played in 55 offensive snaps (68.75%). Mac Jones targets Boutte four times in the game, but the rookie was unable to record his first NFL reception. Boutte did successfully catch two passes along the sideline but failed to get two feet down inbounds both times. The first of these was clearly on Boutte, who looked like he temporarily forgot he was no longer playing under the NCAA’s one-foot rules.

A lack of concentration (sometimes called mental toughness in Foxboro) is exactly the type of play that lands a player in Bill Belichick’s doghouse quickly. This appears to be the case for Boutte, who has not played since the opener. It is time for that to change.

Last Sunday the Patriots lost their leading receiver Kendrick Bourne for the season with an ACL injury. New England lost Parker on Sunday as well. He left with a concussion after being hit in the head. He has not practiced yet this week. That leaves the Patriots in need of some production from their wide receivers, and Boutte is a good option to get some more opportunities.

The wide receiver room in New England currently consists of Demario Douglas, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tyquan Thornton, Jalen Reagor, Ty Montgomery (who is technically listed as a running back on the Patriots roster) and Boutte. Last Sunday both Boutte and Thornton were among New England’s inactive players in Miami. This week the duo should replace Bourne and Parker in the lineup. It is important for the Patriots to truly see what they have in these young receivers over the course of this season. If they are going to make any big decisions on the 2024 roster, seeing what the players on the 2023 team can do is crucial.

Obviously, it is easy to focus on what Kayshon Boutte did wrong in his NFL debut. It would have been great if he got both feet in bounds on both plays. However, he did flash the ability to get open and to catch the ball. That is not something Mac Jones has seen a lot of from his wide receiver group this season. The most reliable receiver had been Bourne, out for the year now. Douglas has also flashed when given the opportunity but has also found himself in the doghouse due to a fumble.

These New England Patriots will not be playing in the Super Bowl this season, barring a miracle. Allowing young players to show what they can do includes allowing them to make mistakes and get back out there.

One could argue Kayshon Boutte deserved a second opportunity sooner. DeVante Parker, the man ahead of him on the depth chart, has failed to produce himself. This includes a very costly drop at the end of the Raiders loss. Perhaps some young blood will spark this offense and get things going in the right direction. And if Kayshon Boutte, Demario Douglas, Tyquan Thornton, and Jalen Reagor all fall flat when given an expanded role, at least there is no disputing that it is time to move on from some in that group. But first they need to be given a real chance and be set free.