It would take a crazy person to believe the New England Patriots could upgrade their starting tight end. Their depth is another story, however.
The Patriots have the best starting tight end in (the history of?) the NFL in Rob Gronkowski, but Michael Hoomanawanui is an average blocker and rarely-utilized receiver, James Develin is a fullback and Tim Wright wasn’t trusted down the stretch of New England’s Super Bowl XLIX run.
Wright could improve with a full offseason in the Patriots’ system, but that shouldn’t stop New England from adding to the position this offseason. Having depth at tight end is especially important for the Patriots, since Gronkowski is injury prone.
Check out some free-agent possibilities:
The Patriots showed interest in Daniels last offseason before he signed with the Baltimore Ravens. The 32-year-old tight end will be available again Tuesday when free agency begins, and he could be a solid complement to/insurance for Gronkowski.
Daniels had 48 receptions for 527 yards and four touchdowns, proving he still has some gas left in the tank last season. Daniels’ best days are behind him, but he also should could come relatively cheap on the open market.
The Patriots likely will never find an Aaron Hernandez clone to pair with Gronkowski, but Paul was one of the NFL’s better flex tight ends last season.
He caught 39 passes for 507 yards with one touchdown in his 2014 breakout season and could be an upgrade over Wright.
The Florida Atlantic product had consecutive 400-yard seasons in 2012 and 2013 before disappearing in Bruce Arians’ offense last year, catching just nine passes for 129 yards.
Housler, who ran a 4.46-second 40-yard dash coming out of college in 2011 with an impressive 6.90-second 3-cone and 37-inch vertical leap, is another solid candidate as a flex tight end with potential to grow in the Patriots’ offense.
Kendricks played under offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels with the St. Louis Rams and could be a decent complement to Gronkowski. He’s undersized at 6-foot-3, 250 pounds and has never lit the stat sheet on fire, but he’s a solid blocker and has the athleticism to play flex tight end.
Kendricks’ best season came in 2012, when he had 42 catches for 519 yards with four touchdowns. He caught 27 catches for 259 yards with five scores last season.
Fasano is on the older side, like Daniels, but he would be a solid backup to Gronkowski if he’s willing to take a reduced salary and role.
The 30 year old had 25 catches for 226 yards with four touchdowns last season with the Kansas City Chiefs. He’s a free agent now and can be signed before the 2015 offseason officially begins March 10 at 4 p.m.
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images