NFL Rumors: Patriots Set on Signing WR Will Hastings For 'The Last Year'

"We’ve heard rumors for the last year that [New England] would end up signing him."
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Among the 16 undrafted free agents the New England Patriots signed over the weekend was Auburn wide receiver Will Hastings. 

Hastings - who is a talented slot receiver - has a history with Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham. The two played together at Auburn in 2017, which was their best collegiate seasons statistically. However, in 2018 - which was Stidham's final season at Auburn, Hastings tore his ACL and missed the entire season. 

Despite having not played together for a few years, the chemistry may still be there between Hastings and Stidham, which is why New England is rumored to have been wanting to sign Hastings for "the last year".

"We did think that had a good chance of happening, really, for a while," Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn said of Hastings landing with New England, via Auburn Sports

"We’ve heard rumors for the last year that [New England] would end up signing him," Malzahn said.

It's also worth noting that Lions running back Kerryon Johnson - who was Hastings and Stidham's teammate at Auburn in 2017 - called it back in 2017 that Hastings would eventually sign with the Patriots. 

Hastings didn't wow during his 2019 campaign with the Tigers, which is likely why he went undrafted this year. He caught 19 balls for 222 yards and a touchdown in 10 games. However, he ran a 4.03-second short shuttle, 6.55-second 3-cone drill and 4.50-second 40-yard dash during his pro day in March, which shows his quickness is still there despite a significant injury in 2018 and a dip in production in 2019. 

With Julian Edelman's days in the NFL numbered as he enters his 11th NFL season at age-34, New England is on the lookout for his replacement as the team's primary slot receiver. Since Hastings already has a connection with Stidham - who is projected to be the Patriots' starting quarterback moving forward - the Auburn product could be in line to take over Edelman's duties when he calls it a career.