As has been the case ever since Rob Gronkowski’s retirement after the 2018 season, the New England Patriots’ tight end depth is getting tested yet again. Not only was the team forced to place Devin Asiasi on injured reserve earlier this week, it also had to watch the two remaining players at the position, Ryan Izzo and Dalton Keene, be limited in practice due to hamstring and knee ailments, respectively.
With the position therefore once again in flux, the Patriots might have to address it heading into the second half of their regular season. One option, as was mentioned by head coach Bill Belichick earlier on Friday, might be elevating versatile rookie linebacker Rashod Berry from the practice squad to also use him as a tight end — a position he also played in college. Another option is looking at the free agency market.
According to a report by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss, New England is planning to do that: the team is scheduled to host free agent Dylan Cantrell for Covid-19 testing and an eventual workout further down the line.
Cantrell originally entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by the Los Angeles Chargers in 2018 after serving as a wide receiver at Texas Tech. The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder started his career on the team’s practice squad, but was promoted to the active roster late during his rookie season. However, he has yet to appear in a game: he did not make the Chargers’ game-day roster after his promotion and later spent the 2019 season on injured reserve.
Earlier this year, he entered free agency after L.A. decided not to tender the exclusive-rights free agent. It took almost three months for Cantrell to find a new team, but find one he did: the Arizona Cardinals, who elected to move him to tight end, picked him up in early June before releasing him again during final roster cutdowns. Following a short stint on the team’s practice squad, he was let go again and has been a free agent ever since.
While Cantrell has yet to appear in any NFL level — preseason or regular season — he did catch 158 passes for 1,873 yards and 18 touchdowns during his four years at Texas Tech.