Patriots: 3 star tight ends NE can sign in free agency

Chargers TE Hunter Henry (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
Chargers TE Hunter Henry (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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Here are three game-changing tight ends the Patriots can sign this offseason.

The New England Patriots will have a laundry list of objectives to complete this offseason as it pertains to upgrading their roster, with finding a new quarterback assuredly sitting on top after they reportedly agreed to end their relationship with Cam Newton, who really struggled to find his footing after a promising start to the campaign.

What contributed to Newton’s demise, other than his seemingly compromised shoulder, was the Patriots’ lack of firepower at the wide receiver and tight end positions, which comprised one of the least productive pass-catching units in the entire NFL.

Luckily for the Patriots, they will have ample salary cap space — the fourth-most in the league at $58.67 million, according to Spotrac — to address those crippling issues. As far as the tight end position is concerned, we would personally endorse a trade for Zach Ertz, who’s seeking a fresh extension and potentially a new home after the Eagles embarrassed themselves on national television in their regular season finale. He also might simply be cut in the coming weeks.

If that doesn’t end up working out, however, the free agent market surprisingly flaunts some intriguing options at the tight end position. With that in mind, let’s attempt to highlight three players the Patriots should seriously consider signing on the open market.

Packers TE Robert Tonyan (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

3. Robert Tonyan

Packers TE Robert Tonyan proved to be one of Aaron Rogers’ favorite weapons.

The likes of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams nabbed most of the headlines for the Green Bay Packers’ success this season, and rightfully so, as they connected for a whopping 18 touchdowns, but tight end Robert Tonyan was quietly one of the most important pieces of their offense, especially in the red zone.

After playing a combined 12% of the offensive snaps over the first two seasons of his career, Tonyan burst onto the scene as one of the most consistent tight ends in the NFL in 2020. The former undrafted talent won the starting job out of training camp and literally didn’t look back, logging 52 receptions for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns (!), which was tied for the league lead at the TE position.

Not only that, but Tonyan recorded a ridiculous 88.1% catch rate, which ranked first among pass catchers with at least 50 catches. With that in mind, it shouldn’t be surprising that Rodgers boasted a 147.6 passer rating when throwing his direction, but that also shouldn’t take away from the sheer spectacle of that number.

At 26 years old, Tonyan is just entering the prime of his career and his breakout campaign should earn him a significant pay day in restricted free agency. Assuming the Packers make it a priority to re-sign him, the Patriots will have to be both aggressive and generous to beat them to the punch. With cap space no longer holding them back, they really have no excuse not to offer him a contract.