On Monday, the New England Patriots created an open spot on their 53-man roster by placing fullback Jakob Johnson on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. The expectation at the time was that it would be used to re-sign Benjamin Watson — an experienced player that would help bolster the depth at the tight end position with Matt LaCosse rehabbing from a knee injury suffered during last Thursday’s game.
The Patriots will indeed use Johnson’s former roster spot on a tight end but it looks like the player in question will not be Watson, at least for now: according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, New England will sign free agent Eric Tomlinson. The 27-year-old, who will be on his fifth team since entering the NFL as an undrafted rookie in 2015, is now expected to serve as a complementary piece alongside second-year man Ryan Izzo.
After short stints with the Philadelphia Eagles and Houston Texans, Tomlinson joined the New York Jets in 2016. Over the three seasons that followed, the appeared in 39 games for the team and registered 16 catches for 193 yards and a touchdown — all while seeing considerable action on special teams as well. However, the Jets moved on from Tomlinson during this year’s roster cutdowns. He went on to join the New York Giants but was let go again after just three games.
Now, he joins a Patriots team that has had its fair share of questions at tight end ever since the retirement of future Hall of Famer Rob Gronkowski. The main question when it comes to this particular signing, however, relates to the aforementioned Benjamin Watson and whether or not he will ultimately be brought back as well. Anything seems possible, which is why it would also not be a surprise if New England opted to move Matt LaCosse to injured reserve to create another opening on its roster.