The New England Patriots have a glaring weakness at tight end that needs to be addressed over the offseason.
No, you’re not having déjà vu stemming from the 2019 campaign.
The Patriots featured one of the weakest tight end corps in all of football two seasons ago. The group somehow was even less productive in 2020, which marked New England’s first losing season in two decades. Rookies Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene effectively were non-factors, and Ryan Izzo only caught 13 passes over 10 games.
It would be wise of the Patriots to bring in a proven, veteran tight end this offseason. Arguably the best option out there will be Hunter Henry, who set a career high in receptions this season. But if New England is going to bring on the 26-year-old, it likely will need to pay top dollar.
“Henry would be an upgrade for the Patriots, as he’s a true tight end in the sense he’s a factor as a blocker and pass-catcher,” Patriots report Mike Reiss wrote for ESPN.com. “He could command close to a top-of-the-market deal, which is in the per-year-range of $14 million to 15 million.”
Dishing out lucrative, long-term deals to free agents hasn’t been a common practice in Foxboro since Belichick took over 2000. But perhaps New England’s latest campaign suggests some of the franchise’s typical strategies should be reevaluated. Not to mention, Belichick has long admired Henry.
Henry’s injury history potentially could make the Patriots wary of giving him a top-of-the-market deal. But whether it’s Henry or an above-average wide receiver, New England probably should use some of its ample salary cap space on a dynamic pass-catcher.