In an off-season where there’s some uncertainty layered over several positions on the team, offensively and defensively, one of the positions being glossed over amongst the fray is tight end. Casual Patriots fans will come out on the defensive saying, “You’re crazy… We’ve got Gronk… We’re all set… I’m not worried.” Truth is, this team needs more than the yearly skeleton appearance of Rob Gronkowski. While there is no doubting his “Hulkamania”-esque effect on New England’s offense, his gaping holes in playing time have become a yearly fixture that depletes the Patriots chances oh winning come playoff time.
This year in free agency there is an unusually deep class of tight ends available, some that may or may not fit in New England, and some that are just off limits because of their potential price tag. Here’s a look ahead at what’s available and why they may or may not land with the Patriots in the coming months:
1. Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints
Jimmy Graham has been unworldly the last few seasons, even if some in the area may not pay close attention. Graham is best known for his fantasy football prowess based on his insane stat lines. In his four seasons he has amassed 301 catches, 3,863 yards and 41 touchdowns (16 of which came in 2013). He is the cream of the crop this offseason, but questions arise on the Saints’ ability to resign or even apply the franchise tag on Graham given their paper thin cap space and the hefty price tag Graham is going to receive. Many other teams are anxious to take their shot at this beast.
The Patriots would of course love to go for Graham, but with the money invested in Gronkowski and the “dead money” lingering from Aaron Hernandez, along with needs elsewhere will leave the Patriots out of the potential Jimmy Graham sweepstakes.