The New England Patriots re-signed restricted free agent tight end Michael Hoomanawanui to a one-year deal worth $1.323 million yesterday, and the 24-year-old Illinois product was certainly a great signing for the New England Patriots last offseason. Since Hoomanwanui isn’t a major player but still a solid role guy, I will offer some quick bullet points on what Hoomanawanui brings to the table next season.
1. First and foremost, the New England Patriots could use the continued depth at the TE position in lieu of Rob Gronkowski‘s arm issues and the news that Aaron Hernandez needed shoulder surgery this offseason. Hoomanawanui isn’t an excellent wide receiver like those guys, but he is an excellent blocker and can help replace some of the loss in blocking prowess if Gronk has to miss any games. Neither Hernandez nor Gronk are expected to miss any games, and Hooman would have been re-signed regardless.
2. Illinois Mike might have been the best St. Louis Rams to New England Patriots signing made by Josh McDaniels last offseason, because Greg Salas was lost to the Philadelphia Eagles and Brandon Lloyd is no longer with the team. Hooman isn’t as good as Lloyd, but he was a quality signing who has lasted for more than one season.
2. Hooman is one of the best blocking tight ends in the NFL, and he is quite underrated overall. Blocking tight ends like Hooman, Jim Kleinsasser, Joel Dreesen, Daniel Fells, and Anthony Fasano often go criminally underrated. Not only can Hoomanawanui block, but he also has an awesome name.
3. Another thing to note about Hoomanawanui is that he can be lined up as an H-back, which was quite useful in the absence of Hernandez. He’s a great lead blocker out of the backfield, and it’s always nice to have that kind of a blocking presence at H-back and lined up in a traditional sense. Although the Patriots never really use him as a pass-catcher, Big Mike is better than you think in that regard.
4. Hooman filled in for Gronkowski towards the end of the year as well in order to bring that sort of blocking influence into the team. Also watch for Daniel Fells, because he is an even better blocker than Hooman and is another solid TE. But his future is uncertain with Jake Ballard in the fold, as Ballard is a very good pass-catching TE in his own right who can make up for Gronk’s possible absence.
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