The Patriots might have just claimed a viable red zone TE threat off of waivers.
The timely emergence of Jakobi Meyers over the last month has distracted fans in New England from the fact that the Patriots are still sorely lacking in the pass-catching department.
Projected top option Julian Edelman’s age appears to finally be catching up to him and he’s currently on injured reserve with a knee injury. 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry, meanwhile, only missed two games with a concussion, but you wouldn’t know it based on how little he’s contributed from a numbers perspective this season.
Then, you have the tight end position, which has been a non-factor all season long. That, of course, is more of an indictment against Bill Belichick’s roster construction than starter Ryan Izzo, who’s never been relied upon to this extent in the passing game.
Well, Patriots fans will love hearing that the team took to the waiver wire last week to add a potential solution in Jordan Thomas, who could really emerge as a legitimate red zone threat down the stretch of the regular season.
Thomas was claimed off of waivers from Arizona last week, but didn’t play Sunday night against Baltimore because he had to quarantine and clear COVID-19 protocols before being allowed to practice for the Patriots.
The 24-year-old has been nothing to write home about since entering the NFL as a second-round pick in 2018, but that’s largely been the product of a lack of opportunity instead of a lack of ability. As a rookie with Houston, he compiled 20 receptions for 215 yards and four touchdowns, but has just two receptions since.
Injuries derailed the progress Thomas made in Year 1 and the Texans, much to the dismay of the fanbase, waived him leading up to training camp this offseason. He ultimately found a home with the Cardinals, but caught just one pass (a touchdown) in four appearances before being waived and landing on his feet in New England.
Thomas has struggled to find consistency during the early stages of his career, but his presence near the goal line cannot be understated. At 6-foot-5 and 277 pounds (!), there aren’t many defenders who can match up with him in man coverage, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone that 25% of his receptions have gone for touchdowns.
Based on a lack of options, Thomas, assuming he gets acclimated to the playbook in a timely manner, has a great chance to serve as the Patriots’ No. 2 tight end on Sunday against Houston, the team that drafted him. Revenge game, anybody?
To put it simply, the Patriots have depended on so many unknown commodities this season that it wouldn’t be shocking if Thomas emerges as Cam Newton’s go-to target when the offense finds itself knocking on the door in the red zone.