Another notable veteran tight end hit the open market Thursday when the Washington Redskins officially released Jordan Reed.
The New England Patriots had a black hole at the tight end position in 2019. Could Reed, a dangerous receiving threat when healthy, be an option for them this offseason?
Maybe. But probably not.
The “when healthy” qualifier is an important distinction with Reed, who will be 30 when the 2020 season begins. He’s never played a full 16 games in his seven-year NFL career, and he didn’t play at all in 2019, missing the entire season after suffering a concussion — his seventh documented one — in the preseason.
It took Reed months to clear concussion protocol, which he finally did Thursday before being released.
Reed also dealt with multiple toe injuries in recent years. After breaking out with an 87-catch, 952-yard, 11-touchdown season (in 14 games) in 2015 and following it up with a solid 66-catch, 686-yard, six-score effort (in 12 games), he played just six games in 2017 and 13 in 2018 before sitting out all of 2019. His numbers were down even before his latest head injury; he posted a 54-558-2 line in 2018 with a career-low 64.3 percent catch rate.
Reed reportedly wants to continue playing football, but this extensive injury history (and especially his worrying rash of concussions) should give any team pause. And from a New England perspective, the New London, Conn., native also is shorter (6-foot-2) and lighter (242 pounds) than the Patriots typically like their tight ends, who are asked to play significant roles in the running game, as well.
The Patriots undoubtedly need to improve their tight end situation this offseason — Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo were the least-productive group in the NFL in 2019 — but they’d be better off looking elsewhere. This year’s free agent crop includes names like Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper and Tyler Eifert, and several intriguing prospects will be available in the 2020 NFL Draft.