New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seems to be looking for tight ends that have been working out alongside a current member of the squad.
The Patriots acquired tight end Martellus Bennett on March 17th, who had been working out with Rob Gronkowski this offseason, but they apparently had worked out free agent tight end Weslye Saunders before making the trade.
Saunders isn't a stranger to the Patriots as he also worked out for the team in September of 2014. Saunders was out of football for the 2015 season and only suited up for one week in 2014, but he played three years for the Steelers and Colts from 2011-13.
Saunders might also sound familiar because he was spotted working out with Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman this offseason.
Lol @Wes_Saunders88: Another day on the grind with my guy @Edelman11 @Patriots pic.twitter.com/54SD5t8bAa— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) March 12, 2016
Saunders is 6'5, 262 lbs with an explosive 10'2 broad jump. His Pro Day performance in 2011 was limited by a foot injury, but he says he recently ran a 40 yard dash in the 4.67 range.
Saunders would likely compete with Michael Williams and A.J. Derby for the 3rd tight end spot due to his blocking ability. He'd likely be viewed as more of a receiving threat than Williams and he's more experienced at the position than Derby.
The tight end has also drawn interest from the Seahawks and the Chiefs.
The free agent tight end is trying to overcome a few major obstacles to make it back in the NFL.
In his final year at the University of South Carolina, Saunders and six other teammates were investigated for attending a party believed to be associated with improper benefits from an agent and was suspended a week by head coach Steve Spurrier for missing a team meeting in the offseason. Saunders was subsequently dismissed from the team without detail from the school.
Once in the NFL, he started six games as a rookie for the Steelers, serving as primarily a blocker. He was hit with a 4-game suspension in 2012 for PEDs, and then with an 8-game suspension for PEDs in 2013. He is on his final strike before a season-long suspension.
Hopefully he's grown throughout these incidents and, three years later, he is ready to contribute.