The offseason largely was a successful one for the New England Patriots.
Despite losing key players from their Super Bowl-winning squad such as Trey Flowers and Trent Brown, the Patriots filled a number of voids through the draft, free agency and even trades. As it stands, New England finds itself in good position to defend its latest championship.
There currently is one area of great uncertainty in Foxboro, however.
In a column published Tuesday, ESPN tasked all of its NFL beat writers with assessing the offseasons of the respective teams they cover. For the Patriots, Mike Reiss identified their biggest question still to be answered.
“How does the tight end position take shape without Gronkowski, especially with veteran Benjamin Watson serving an NFL suspension for the first four games? Matt LaCosse, Stephen Anderson and Ryan Izzo are next on the depth chart,” Reiss writes.
Veteran tight Austin Seferian-Jenkins originally was slated to be a part of that group, but the Patriots ultimately cut ties with the 26-year-old as he deals with personal issues. New England also attempted to bolster its depth at the position by trading for Michael Roberts, but the deal ended up being nixed after the ex-Detroit Lion failed his physical. And despite heavy chatter, a Kyle Rudolph trade never actually gained much momentum.
As such, it appears post-Gronk life in New England will begin with LaCosse, as Watson serves his suspension to start the season. While LaCosse’s NFL experience is minimal, it would be peak Bill Belichick to turn the fifth-year pro from a relative unknown into an impact player.