The tight end position in New England has become a touchy subject as of late. Only three seasons ago we had the pleasure of watching Aaron Hernandez, Rob Gronkowski, and captain Tom Brady seemingly reinvent the offensive wheel in front of our eyes. Now, after another squandered season in Brady’s twilight years hushed whispers spread through snow-capped New England suburbs about the sustainability of the injury-prone Gronkowski. While Patriots faithful attempt to push Hernandez and his misdeeds further away from the team image (and their consciousness) with each passing day. There is no denying that the Pats are in need of some help at tight end, but is there anyone on the market that fits their system?
Analyzing the available free agent market reveals a steep drop off in talent (and price) after obvious first choice Jimmy Graham, and second option Jermichael Finley. Graham is most suited to replace the skill set lost when Rob Gronkowski is off the field. His sheer size, knack for finding the end zone, and blocking efficiency make him the closest player in the NFL to a Gronkowski clone. But is replacing what Gronkowski brings to the field really the best option moving forward? What made the shake & quake duo so lethal was their combination of skills; Hernandez provided the perfect balance of quickness and athleticism to counter the rumbling, bumbling attack of Rob Gronkowski.
Scott Chandler, who has spent the last four seasons with Buffalo, would make a great under-the-radar free agent addition to the Patriots. Standing at 6’7” and weighing in at 280 pounds Chandler provides an immediate pass catching option to the offense. Chandler will help stretch the middle of the field and open up holes for the running backs, as well as providing Brady with another red zone option. While the intriguing prospect lacks the innate blocking ability that Gronkowski brings, the Patriots are already loaded with competent blocking tight ends. Chandler would bring durability and a dual-threat approach that has been missing in New England since the forced departure of Aaron Hernandez.
Who do you think the Pats should target on the free agent market? Let us know on Twitter! @cover32_NE