The New England Patriots were unable to manufacture any production from the tight end position last year — and they can’t repeat that scenario in 2020.
The New England Patriots did not bring in any positive reinforcements in the wake of Rob Gronkowski’s not so sudden retirement in 2019. As a result, the Patriots had little to no production from the position last year and it ultimately had a negative impact on the overall offensive unit.
Building off of that, the newest development in New England has revolved around Gronkowski reaching out to the Patriots to inform them that he is ready to un-retire and make his return to the NFL. In doing so, Gronkowski also told the Patriots that he wanted to be traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to team up with his good friend, Tom Brady.
And on Tuesday, it all finally happened.
At this point, Gronk and the Patriots do not owe each other much of anything anymore — and it’s almost worth obtaining any kind of draft value or assets for him that you can get.
It’s also no secret that Gronk didn’t enjoy playing football for the New England Patriots, and that if he did ever make a return to the field, it would be to play with the greatest quarterback of all time in Brady.
In return, the Patriots gained a fourth-round draft pick for the rights to Gronkowski from the Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers have been considering trade offers for O.J. Howard since the middle of the 2018 season. Now that Gronk is heading to Tampa Bay, it seems as if it’s almost a sure thing that Howard will be playing for another team this upcoming season.
Although Howard would be a great addition to the Patriots, it doesn’t seem too promising seeing that they just did a trade negotiation and Howard was not included.
Another option to consider is Trey Burton, who was released by the Chicago Bears because they have too much talent at the position. To be more specific, after parting ways with Burton, the Bears still have a league-high nine tight ends on their roster.
Burton is a wide tight end that can set the blocks in the run game and be a complementary target in the passing game. He should at least be considered for the open role and could be given a very favorable contract.
Jordan Reed is another available option who is a free agent after spending his first six seasons playing for the Washington Redskins. Although Reed displayed glimpses of greatness during his tenure in Washington, he never eclipsed 1,000 yards or completed a full season.
Despite his injury history, he is still relatively young and in his prime years at just 29 years old.
Another veteran route to consider is bringing in Charles Clay, who has spent his nine-year career in the NFL playing for the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, and Arizona Cardinals. Clay is 31 years old and has five seasons with at least 74 targets and a 66.2 catch percentage.
The numbers do show that Clay can successfully run routes and create separation for himself — he just needs to catch the ball when it comes his way. If signed to the right team, I think he will have a productive season this year.
The tight end position solidifies an offensive unit and becomes a security blanket both in the ground game and through the air. The New England Patriots cannot go through another season without solid production from their tight end.