FOXBORO, Mass. — Tim Wright’s new teammates weren’t finished lamenting the loss of offensive captain Logan Mankins in the locker room on Tuesday, but they were excited to have the undersized tight end on the New England Patriots.
Wright, who came to the Patriots with a 2015 fourth-round pick for Mankins in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, played at Rutgers with defensive backs Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon and Logan Ryan and linebacker Steve Beauharnais, and with Darrelle Revis last year on the Bucs. The Patriots are getting a “flex” tight end in the mold of Aaron Hernandez who can co-exist in the offense with Rob Gronkowski.
Wright began his NFL career as a wide receiver after playing the position in college and switched to tight end last summer. He had success in his transition to the new position, catching 54 passes for 571 yards with five touchdowns.
“He’s a good player,” Harmon said Tuesday in the Patriots’ locker room after the trade. “It showed last year when he got a little comfortable in his position. He made some plays for Tampa Bay. He’s definitely a good player.”
Wright, at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, is probably the smallest tight end in the NFL. He looks like a wide receiver when he lines up on the field, but he excels at creating a mismatch against linebackers and safeties. The Patriots don’t have another tight end on the roster like him.
“He’s great, man. He started for us down in Tampa Bay when I was there last year,” Revis said. “We’re getting a solid player who can catch, who can run and run great routes. He was a wide receiver coming in, and they switched him to tight end. He has a lot of speed at the tight end position.”
Wright might not be used by New England as frequently as Hernandez was from 2010 to 2012, but the former Scarlet Knight can find a role on the team. Wright can allow the Patriots to use more two-tight end sets, which increases their deception on offense.
“He’s a good tight end. That’s not your traditional tight end,” Harmon said. “Does good things in and out of his breaks, catches the ball well, just a change-up tight end that did well for himself last year.”
Of course, it comes as no surprise that Bill Belichick would acquire another former Greg Schiano player. The former Rutgers and Buccaneers head coach hung around the Patriots during training camp before last season, and Belichick seems to like how smart and hard-working his former players are when they show up in New England.
“He came from Rutgers — he has that instilled in him of being a hard worker,” Revis said. “He’s a playmaker. And him teaming up with our system and what we do on offense, I think he’ll fit in well.”
And if Wright can’t contribute as a tight end? Harmon said Wright was a great barber during his time at Rutgers, cutting half the team’s hair before games.
“Tim, he’s good. He kept me fresh in college,” Harmon said.
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