The New England Patriots are heading towards the 2019 regular season with plenty of questions at the tight end position: from losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement in late March, to the four-game suspension veteran Benjamin Watson faces to open the year. In the Patriots’ preseason opener against the Detroit Lions, another one might have emerged when free agency acquisition Matt LaCosse went down with an injury.
While the extent of the injury is not yet known, the Patriots are covering the bases: as first reported by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, the team has acquired third-year tight end Eric Saubert via trade from the Atlanta Falcons. In order to get the 25-year-old on board, New England is sending a conditional seventh-round draft selection to Atlanta.
Saubert originally entered the NFL as a fifth-round draft pick in 2017 and established himself as a rotational depth option for the team as well as core special teamer. Saubert appeared in a combined thirty games for the Falcons, with 2018 being his best season: he caught 5 passes for 48 yards, while playing 16.8% of the team’s snaps on offense (178 of 1,060). He also lined up for 66.4% of Atlanta’s snaps in the kicking game (292 of 440).
The acquisition of Saubert will put the Patriots above the 90-man offseason roster limit, so a corresponding move will have to be made.
[UPDATE 8/12/2019, 9:42 a.m. ET] The Falcons have confirmed the trade.