The New England Patriots have numerous options when it comes to upgrading a tight end group that struggled mightily over the course of the 2019 season. Free agency and the draft are obviously two of them, but the team might also be interested in going after veteran talent via trade — something they are apparently already doing: according to a recent report, they are one of two teams interested in the Baltimore Ravens’ Hayden Hurst.
While it remains to be seen how serious the Patriots really are at exploring a trade for the former first-round draft pick, Hurst is one of multiple players at the position who might be on the team’s target this offseason. With that being said, let’s take a look at five other tight ends New England could very well make a run for:
A former first-round draft pick like Hurst, O.J. Howard has been on the Patriots’ radar for quite some time now but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been unwilling to part ways with him as of yet. Maybe they will be more willing to do so now that he is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and if that is the case New England might be among the first teams to call. After all, Howard is a strong receiver with considerable upside as a blocker as well. He is a true number one tight end.
If the Buccaneers are unwilling to trade Howard or are expecting an unreasonable return from New England’s perspective, another one of the team’s tight ends might also be an intriguing option: Cameron Brate, who was signed to a six-year, $40.8 million contract extension under previous head coach Dirk Koetter and will see his full $7 million salary become guaranteed on March 17. Brate is not as impressive a pass catcher as Howard, but he could still be a reliable receiver in the right system.
Like Howard, Gerald Everett is entering the final year of his rookie deal and as such a potential candidate for a trade. The former second-round selection, after all, has been serviceable as both a receiver and a blocker but did not necessarily inspire much confidence in serving as a true TE1 in the Los Angeles Rams’ system. The 25-year-old might therefore benefit from a change of scenery to maximize his value before entering free agency next offseason.
A restricted free agent, Blake Jarwin will likely be tendered by the Dallas Cowboys so the Patriots might be able to get him on board by signing him to an offer sheet. But even if they don’t, they could have the 25-year-old on their radar as a potential trade acquisition: Jarwin, after all, faces a somewhat uncertain future in Dallas after serving as the number two tight end for the previous two years. If the Cowboys do not feel confident in him as the top option, he might become available even if previously tendered.
After already parting ways with Demetrius Harris earlier this offseason, the Cleveland Browns might not be willing to trade away former first-round pick David Njoku. However, the 23-year-old has been quiet over his first three years in the league and is coming off a season in which injuries limited him to four games. While his upside cannot be denied, he has yet to pull it all together and develop into a truly elite receiver and blocker. Like Everett, he might benefit from a change of scenery.