Much like at the quarterback position, the Patriots have a huge hole to fill at TE since the departure of a future Hall of Famer.
Rob Gronkowski’s initial retirement almost hurt as much as the day he requested a trade to join his buddy Tom Brady in Tampa Bay. Either way, Gronk leaving the Patriots has left a glaring hole in the offense that has yet to be repaired.
Entering 2021, rookie Devin Asiasi was hyped as a promising prospect with a chance of becoming a reliable tight end in the NFL. This past year, though, he failed to get anything done on the field (when he even got on the field). A truncated training camp and a trip to the injured reserve didn’t let the UCLA product get many reps. Week 17 showed that Asiasi has the skills to become a competent tight end in this league, but it’ll be tough to rely on him for a full-time role next season.
If Bill Belichick agrees that Asiasi isn’t ready to be ‘the guy’ for the Patriots at TE, there are a few routes he could go.
This year’s tight end free agent class is truly nothing special. Other than Hunter Henry and an improbable reunion with Gronkowski, this year’s group isn’t filled with game-breakers at the position. Henry’s reported price tag is fairly rich, and unless Belichick loves him, he’s not paying a premium for the TE.
The 2021 tight end draft class, on the other hand, is very enticing. The Patriots at the No.15 slot could be primed to land a generational talent at the position.
As always, though, the Patriots will be looking at all options, and after digging around the last few offseasons and trade deadlines, they could finally pull the trigger on a move for a proven name. Let’s take a look at a few tight ends who could use a change of scenery.
3. Zach Ertz
After not being able to negotiate a new contract this season, Zach Ertz could be looking for a new home, and the Patriots would love to have him.
Zach Ertz just experienced his worst season since coming into the league with the Philadelphia Eagles.
It got off to a rough start when Ertz was said to be fairly angry about the Eagles’ unwillingness to come to terms on a deal he believed he deserved as a stalwart of the Philadelphia offense for seven seasons.
A trip to the injured reserve also didn’t help, and trade rumors swirled around the deadline about a potential Ertz move.
A healthy Zach Ertz is one of the best TEs in the league, and his pass catching, plus steady improvement in the blocking game, make him an exciting player to have on your team.
Belichick would have to love this guy, and if the Patriots can get him for any sort of discount after a career down year, they’ve got to go for him.
At what is basically a $12.5 million salary for one more year, it isn’t the cheapest option, but Ertz is as reliable as they come at the tight end position.