The New England Patriots fortified their tight end position by adding veteran Lance Kendricks to the mix just a day before training camp begins.
The Patriots‘ seemingly endless quest to replace Rob Gronkowski continued on Wednesday, with news breaking that the team had signed veteran tight end Lance Kendricks to a one-year deal, per ESPN and Kendricks’ agent David Canter.
Kendricks is a former second-round draft pick out of the University of Wisconsin. A home-grown native of the Badger State, Kendricks most recently returned back to his roots to play for the Green Bay Packers in 2017 and 2018 after having spent his entire career up until that point with the Rams, first in St. Louis and then for one year in Los Angeles.
The Patriots are getting a durable, seasoned player in Kendricks, who has missed just three games over the span of an eight-year career in the NFL. On average, Kendricks has caught about 30 balls for 313 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per season.
While he’s never quite lived up to the pre-draft hype that was expected of him entering the pros as a second-round pick, Kendricks could potentially help stabilize a New England tight end unit that looks terribly haggard and talent-thin on paper. As of now, fourth-year journeyman Matt LaCosse appears to be the favorite to start Week 1 for the Patriots, despite having just 20 total games of experience under his belt (15 of which all came last year with the Denver Broncos).
For now, Kendricks’ signing should broaden that competition for first-string snaps during training camp. Especially with Benjamin Watson starting the year suspended for four games due to a failed drug test, the camp battle for tight end reps is wide open.
Andrew Beck, Ryan Izzo, and Stephen Anderson round out New England’s current depth chart at the position. It is unknown at this time how many tight ends Patriots head coach Bill Belichick plans to keep on the final 53-man roster.