It looked like the New England Patriots would be keeping a fullback on the roster after James Develin made the team following the initial round of cuts, and I honestly thought Develin was safe. While I didn’t want him on the roster and never had him projected on the roster, Bill Belichick had a lengthy press conference earlier this month about the benefits of having a fullback, and the Patriots gave Develin more playing time as the preseason went on. That seemed to bode well for Develin, and the fact that he was constantly presented awards last season for his work on the practice squad also made me believe that the Patriots felt him worthy of a roster spot. Just as it looked like Develin was a fit for the Patriots roster, he received his walking papers. MassLive.com’s Nick Underhill reported the move yesterday.
The New England Patriots filled Develin’s roster spot with a tight end they worked out yesterday in former Green Bay Packers TE Matthew Mulligan. News of the signing was reported by the Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian, and the move to swap Develin for Mulligan on the roster makes sense.
I’m guessing that the Patriots took a look at the tight ends on their roster and felt that they needed to add another one, specifically a more traditional, in-line tight end. That’s exactly the kind of player Mulligan is, and I would compare him to Daniel Fells. He’s more of a plodding, in-line TE whose best asset is blocking, and I think that’s what the Patriots were looking for. The 27-year-old is cheap, and he also has special teams value, thus making him a better financial deal than Fells. He’s also healthier than Jake Ballard, and the Patriots probably felt that more depth at TE was needed. Zach Sudfeld is more of a “move” TE (spent his time in the slot while at Nevada), so that might have also factored into this decision
Michael Hoomanawanui did a great thing in taking a paycut to remain on the Patriots, and his role on the team looks perfectly set right now. Hooman is versatile enough to play at either tight end or H-Back, and he spent most of his time at H-Back. I expect the excellent blocker to do the same this season, and he might spend basically all of time at H-Back. If the Patriots need someone to block out of the backfield, then Hooman is their guy. This move makes sense as far as roster flexibility goes, economics go, and I think the Patriots will run more two-back sets with two RBs on the field.