The New England Patriots are entering a new era in 2024. Kendrick Bourne wants to be a part of it.
The veteran wide receiver is set to become an unrestricted free agent next month, and it’s unclear whether he will return to the Patriots for a fourth season or sign elsewhere. But Bourne, who had 37 receptions and 406 yards in eight games in 2023 with New England before suffering a season-ending ACL injury, has made his intentions to become a free agent very clear.
Bourne joined our own Tom E. Curran from Super Bowl Radio Row in Las Vegas for a 1-on-1 conversation as part of the new Patriots Talk Podcast touching on several subjects — most notably his desire to remain in New England.
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“I felt like we were in a rebuild. I personally felt that way, the three years I was there it was a rebuild,” Bourne told Curran. “I’ve loved being a part of it and laying the groundwork and I think it’s going to take off very soon. So I want to be a part of the take off in a sense. I’m excited for this new chapter and I’d love to be a part of it, man. I definitely have unfinished business.”
Bourne put up career numbers during his first season with the Patriots, posting 55 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns in 2021. In 2022, his production dropped to just 434 yards as he publicly expressed his frustration with the offense’s first play. – caller Matt Patricia. Still, the 28-year-old still believes he can be the best version of himself in New England, which is working with a new head coach (Jerod Mayo) and offensive coordinator (Alex Van Pelt) after Bill Belichick left in January.
“The way they treated me last year, I mean all my years (here), they helped me grow tremendously in life, personally, emotionally, mentally, ultimately as a football player,” Bourne said. “I want to get back into it. I was pushed to another level with the Patriots and I think it’s just different. It’s an environment that works for me, that helps me become a better person, a better player. So I’d like to keep it going.
“I felt like I was becoming the best player of my career. I had a great 2021, I had a great three years there. Obviously I was injured (last season), but I’m definitely not done. I played great, so I want to come back and do it again.”
One of the motivating factors for Bourne to want to stay in New England? A chance to play for Mayo, a 37-year-old former Patriots quarterback who will bring a very different energy than the players were used to under Belichick.
“I’m just seeing a new era. It’s just new,” Bourne said of May’s hire. “There’s nothing wrong with ending something that was phenomenal. Bill had a great tenure, it was just phenomenal, so I think it was just time for something new and everything ends once.
“… I had a great relationship with Maya. I saw him there for three years, he always walked around the locker room with a lot of energy, with a great attitude and I just love that they made that decision. So, I’m excited to see what he does. I think he’s going to bring a lot of energy.
“I think it’s going to be a bunch we’re going to have to treat ourselves that we haven’t seen in New England. I’ve only been there three years, so I haven’t seen it yet, but I think it’s going to be different and new.”
Bourne sees himself as the “glue” in the Patriots’ receiver room, bringing the “energy” and “charisma” the team needs during his tenure. On the field, Bourne hopes to return to running the West Coast offense that the 49ers ran during his four seasons in San Francisco and that Van Pelt could run a version of in 2024.
“I love the West Coast offense,” Bourne said. “Obviously my first term in San Francisco was a West Coast attack. And I heard from Van Pelt, he’s kind of a West Coast guy, so I’m excited about that. I think it could be a good change for what we need, maybe something different, something we’ve never done before. Learning new terminology and new ways of doing things that I think could help us.
“… I was very successful on the West Coast (offense), obviously I played there (in San Francisco), I got paid by the Patriots, so it worked for me personally and I think it will work for some players. I love it both systems, but whatever works for the majority of the team I think will make us better.”
The question, of course, is who will lead this offense. Few expect Mac Jones to be the Patriots’ starter in 2024 after a disastrous 2023 campaign, but Bourne still has faith in the young quarterback.
“I love Mac. I think it’s just the circumstances,” Bourne said when asked what caused Jones’ struggles in 2023. “I think the pressure (of being) the No. 1 player and some of the things around him just didn’t work. It didn’t t glue for him, so it was difficult.
“I experienced my struggles coming into the league. I was undrafted, but it’s hard when you’re trying to meet expectations and you don’t feel like you can reach them, so sometimes you kind of get down on yourself. So I mean, it just became overwhelming . I think he’s the same player. I think you have to draw it out of him in a certain way, and I think he can do that.”
And if the Patriots decide to move on with Jones? Bourne has QB upside for the Patriots, who they can select at No. 3 in the 2024 NFL Draft.
“I like Jayden Daniels. I’m a fan of Jayden Daniels,” Bourne said of the LSU quarterback. “Heisman Trophy winner, obviously. I like the way he plays because he can be versatile, so I think that would be a strong point for us. Just my opinion.”
Watch the video below for Bourne’s full interview with Curran.