The Patriots will have an open competition in OTAs, minicamp, training camp and the preseason to see who grabs the brass ring and earns a roster spot.
Roster locks: None?
On the bubble: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Matt LaCosse
Practice squad candidates: Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson, Andrew Beck, Jakob Johnson
Seferian-Jenkins is the most experienced of the group. He has 116 career receptions for 1,160 yards with 11 touchdowns in five NFL seasons since being selected in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Washington.
He’s a big, versatile tight end at 6-foot-5, 262 pounds. He’s powerful enough to contribute as a blocker and athletic enough to help out as a pass-catcher. He’s struggled with injuries during his pro career, however, and played just five games last season, catching 11 passes for 90 yards with one touchdown.
He’s probably the favorite to earn the starting tight end job, but he also only was guaranteed $50,000 at signing. So, he’s no certainty to make the team.
LaCosse — who signed a two-year, $2.8 million with $500,000 guaranteed — is probably the closest thing to a roster lock. The 2015 undrafted free agent could have the best football in front of him. He has 27 career receptions for 272 yards with one touchdown, and 24 of those catches for 250 yards and the score came last season with the Denver Broncos. He’s 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and a decent athlete. It’s tough to know what to expect out of him, but clearly the Patriots like the Illinois product.
Izzo was a 2018 seventh-round pick who spent his entire rookie season on injured reserve with a minor ankle injury. He’s another potential complete tight end who can block and has the athleticism to get open as a pass-catcher. Izzo is a big target at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds, who didn’t contribute much last summer, but that he’ll have plenty of opportunities to shine with Gronkowski, Allen and Hollister gone.
Anderson is a much more undersized target at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds. He’s a big slot receiver or an undersized flex tight end. He was on the Patriots’ 53-man roster to close out last season but was never active in a game.
Beck is a rookie free agent out of Texas. He caught 28 passes for 281 yards with two touchdowns last season at 6-foot-3 252 pounds. He had issues with drops and is more of a blocking option.
Johnson is a fullback/tight end from the NFL’s international gateway program. He’s taking up an additional 91st spot on the Patriots’ 90-man roster. They can keep him next season with an additional 11th spot on the practice squad.
The Patriots’ tight end group could still look different once camp rolls around. New England reportedly is hosting its former first-round pick, veteran tight end Benjamin Watson, on a free-agent visit Thursday so he could join the mix. The Patriots could continue to actively seek out trade partners for a tight end. The Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans or Tampa Bay Buccaneers could be sellers. Tight ends who could potentially hit the block from those teams are Kyle Rudolph, Ryan Griffin, Jordan Thomas and Cameron Brate.