August 30, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams tight end Michael Hoomanawanui (86) scores a touchdown on a 9 yard pass against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half at the Edward Jones Dome.
Hoomanawanui, 24, played his first two seasons in the NFL with the St. Louis Rams, before being released over the weekend. Hoomanawanui played in 16 total games between 2010 and 2011, starting 11, and recording 20 catches for 229 yards and three touchdowns.
The move gives the Patriots five tight ends on their active roster, including Visanthe Shiancoe, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, and Daniel Fells. However, Shiancoe is expected to be placed on the short-term injured reserve list to make room for Hoomanawanui.
So why sign yet another tight end?
The best guess is because the team no longer views Aaron Hernandez as a "tight end," at least not in the traditional sense. Rob Gronkowski and Daniel Fells are viewed as the two traditional tight ends on the roster, and if one of the two were to go down, the team wouldn't necessarily have the depth they'd like at the position. Signing Hoomanawanui gives the Patriots depth in case of an injury, and also allows the team to run a "heavy" goal line set.
Per NFL rules, since Hoomanawanui was signed off the Redskins' practice squad, he must remain on the team's active roster for three weeks.