While the football world not so patiently awaits word on the future of Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, the fact remains that the New England Patriots need some help on the offensive side of the ball.  A big target for the Patriots this offseason will be the addition of a pass catching tight end.  It was arguably the weakest position for the Patriots offense throughout the 2019 season, and in turn put a lot of pressure on the receiving corps that they ultimately were not able to overcome.

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Photo courtesy of usatoday.com
The Patriots offense stumbled through the 2019 season with Ben Watson, Matt Lacosse, and Ryan Izzo.  Lacosse and Izzo battled injuries throughout the season, and Watson showed that he is certainly at the end of his football career.  Collectively the trio put up 36 receptions for 418 yards and 2 TDs.  A massive departure from the 2018 season where Rob Gronkowski alone put up 47 receptions for 682 yards and three TDs in a down year statistically.

Shop NFL Sideline Gear at Fanatics.comGoing forward, the Patriots need to look for a young and stable option for the future.  Regardless of whether or not it will be Brady throwing them the ball, the position has always been an integral part of the Patriots scheme.  Whether or not they make a move for the position in free agency or through the draft is yet to be seen.

There are some strong options in the free agent market which will open on March 18th (legal tampering period beginning March 16th) and it will be interesting to see how Belichick and company approach it.  The right fit for the team can help shape the future of the franchise beyond just the next couple years of Tom Brady’s career.

Austin Hooper is one of a handful of notable free agents available this offseason.  Hooper completed the 2019 season with 75 receptions for 787 yards and six TDs in 13 games.  Being on the upswing of his career, at only 25 years old and 6’4” 254 lbs, he has continued to improve his stats season by season and will likely be a widely sought after option on the free agent market.  Hooper is likely to command a significant payday, one that we know from experience that the Patriots are not often willing to pony up.

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Photo courtesy of falcoms.com
Another top free agent name is Hunter Henry of the Los Angeles Chargers.  Also at 25 years old, Henry completed his 2019 season with 55 receptions with 652 yards and five TDs in 12 games.  Henry’s 6’5” 250 lb frame could make for a very appealing target to whoever steps under center for the Patriots this season.  He comes with some durability issues as he missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL, and missed four games this past season with a knee fracture.  His health may be a gamble for whoever signs the young tight end, but the possible returns will definitely sway some interest around the league.

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Photo courtesy of latimes.com
Another option for the Patriots, and probably the more likely option given their history, would be to find their next tight end in the 2020 NFL Draft.  While they’ve had mixed results in their drafting of skill position players, their history does include future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski, who the Patriots selected Gronkowski with the 42nd overall pick in the second round.

One of the top tight end prospects in the upcoming draft would be the Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet.  A Junior who comes in at 6’5” 250 lbs, Kmet has a lot of upside going into the NFL with his size.  Largely considered to be one of the best tight ends to come out this draft, he will be on a lot of draft boards around the league.  Kmet is predicted to go in the second or third rounds.  It would not be a stretch for the Patriots to use one of their three third round picks on Kmet if he’s available, and I wouldn’t rule out the potential of a trade up to fill the much needed position.

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Photo courtesy of goirish.com
Another name that has been tied to New England is Thaddeus Moss out of LSU.  Moss is a 6’3” 249 lb redshirt Junior who had a breakout season in 2019 with 47 receptions for 570 yards and four TDs.  Prior to this season with LSU, Moss had missed the 2017 season due to NCAA rules after transferring to LSU from NC State.  In 2018, Moss was sidelined for the season with a left foot injury.  News out of the combine this week is that Moss is has a Jones fracture in his right foot and will require surgery.  By all accounts he will be ready to go for the 2020 season. But the injury and history for the young tight end may hurt his draft stock.  Moss is currently predicted to go in anywhere from the second to fourth rounds.  Recently, NFL draft analyst Chad Reuter had the Patriots picking Moss with the 98th pick in the third round.

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Photo courtesy of geauxtigers.com
Free agency kicks off officially on March 18, 2020, and the Patriots will head into the 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas on April 23rd -25th with 12 draft picks.  It will be one to watch to see how this franchise positions itself for the future, whether that’s with Tom Brady or without. 

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Possibili-TEs
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