The Tight End position has used to be the Patriots biggest strength outside of Tom Brady, now it is one of their biggest areas of need. Aaron Hernandez is probably going to spend the rest of his life in prison for an assortment of crimes and Rob Gronkowski can’t seem to stay on the field. Behind the often injured Gronk is the mediocre Michael Hoomanawanui, the rarely seen DJ Williams, and two undrafted free agent rookies. If the Patriots were to go into the season with the depth chart as it is now, fans would be livid. Everyone saw the Patriots’ offense stall out in the Championship game and everyone (including myself) was screaming at my TV when they passed on a tight end in the draft. However, if the Patriots want to keep up in the AFC arms race against the Broncos, they’d be smart to pick up at least one of the two big names available.
The first option is Dustin Keller. He has visited the Patriots twice and has still walked away without a contract. Everyone is aware of the mangled wreck his knee was left last year, and that may be why the Patriots have decided to keep checking on his rehab. If signed, Keller would immediately jump to 2nd on the depth chart and probably be starting the tight end when (almost certain to happen) Gronk goes down, again. He is sure handed, and even though he will probably never be back to the way he was with the Jets, he could still be a main contributor as the move tight end.
The other option that has come out is Jermichael Finley. Everyone speculated that the Patriots were his mystery team, and they were right. Finley is coming off his own horrific injury after having his spine bruised last season. He is now trying to resume his NFL career. The Patriots brought him in and he too left without a contract. If the Patriots were to sign Finley, he would also jump to the number 2 TE on the depth chart and could be one-half of the best tight end duos in football if he and Gronk can stay healthy (that’s a huge if).
Many people are debating over which player would be better with the Patriots, would they choose Keller OR Finley, but I have an idea: sign them both, and cut DJ Williams and one of the UDFAs.
If both were signed to a 1 year, prove it contract and both managed to stay fairly healthy, when Gronk gets hurt again or if he’s slow coming off his ACL surgery, the Patriots could start both of them; Finley would be more of the traditional tight end with his huge frame at 6’5 and Keller would be the move tight end at 6’2. If Gronk was able to stay healthy throughout most of the season, then the Patriots would have 3 very capable tight ends that could be plug and play players if any of the other two went down. The last thing that all Patriot fans want to see is the team sign one and the one they didn’t sign have an amazing year elsewhere. So, just be safe and get them both now, then keep only one for the start of the season if the other isn’t fully healthy, or keep them both and play Gronk sparingly until when it really matters, the playoffs.