4

Among Patriots’ biggest needs in 2020: Finding a tight end

After a 2019 season in which the New England Patriots finished last in the NFL in tight end receptions and targets, according to research by ESPN’s Stats & Information, what has the club done to address the position this offseason?

[Insert sound of crickets].cheap nfl nike jersey

There has been no movement, other than subtraction (the retirement of veteran Benjamin Watson).4

In one sense, it is understandable. The free-agent market was thin, especially once the Los Angeles Chargers placed the franchise tag on Hunter Henry. The Cleveland Browns moved fast to lock up Austin Hooper, formerly of the Atlanta Falcons, but at a hefty price tag (four years, $44 million, with $23 million guaranteed) that was likely out of the Patriots’ consideration.

Clearly, the supply didn’t meet the demand for the Patriots, who return 2019 free-agent signing Matt LaCosse and 2018 seventh-round draft choice Ryan Izzo on the depth chart. Improvement from LaCosse and Izzo would be part of upgrading the position, and perhaps working with second-year quarterback Jarrett Stidham — a player on a similar development track/knowledge base in the system — helps spark that progress.nike nfl jerseys cheap china

But the Patriots still need help, whether it’s via trade, the draft or the waiver wire. That’s why, when assessing the team’s needs, it starts at tight end — even more than quarterback, with one caveat: Only if the Patriots felt like a franchise QB option was available would they pounce (and that seems unlikely with their first pick at No. 23 and a trade up doubtful).