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Patriots bolster tight end depth by reportedly signing free agents Paul Butler and Alex Ellis

Related: Patriots bring four players in for free agency workouts

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Original story 8/17/2020: Patriots bolster tight end depth by reportedly signing free agents Paul Butler and Alex Ellis

The Patriots did reportedly not just sign one tight end on Monday, but two: according to NESN’s Doug Kyed, the team also agreed to a contract with Alex Ellis. Like Paul Butler, whose signing was reported earlier today, Ellis was worked out by the Patriots on Sunday and will now add experience to a tight end group also consisting of Ryan Izzo as well as rookies Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Jake Burt and Rashod Berry.

Ellis originally arrived in the NFL as a rookie free agent in 2016: the Tennessee Titans picked him up after the draft, but he failed to survive roster cutdown day. Ellis went on to join the Jacksonville Jaguars’ practice squad and was later promoted to the active team, playing in six games and making three catches for 11 yards — the only offensive statistics he has so far registered outside of preseason competition.

Following a stint with the New Orleans Saints the following season, he joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018 for whom he appeared in two contests before being placed on injured reserve. He joined the Philadelphia Eagles one year later, adding three more in-game appearances to his career résumé.


Original story 8/17/2020: Patriots bolster tight end depth by reportedly signing free agent Paul Butler

Heading into this week, the New England Patriots’ tight end group was arguably the least experienced in all of football: third-year man Ryan Izzo is the elder statesman despite appearing in just six NFL games so far, with rookies Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene, Jake Burt and Rashod Berry filling out the depth chart. Now, however, it seems that another veteran has been added to the equation.

As first reported by NESN’s Doug Kyed, the Patriots will sign Paul Butler to bolster the depth at their tight end position. The 27-year-old worked out for the team on Sunday, and apparently left a positive impression on New England’s coaching staff during his tryout.

Butler originally arrived in the NFL as a rookie free agent signing by the then-Oakland Raiders in 2018. While he saw regular action on offense and special teams during his first preseason, the team decided to release him before bringing him back via its practice squad. Butler spent most of his first two years in the league on the club’s developmental roster, but was signed to a reserve/futures deal by the Detroit Lions earlier this year.

The third-year man eventually returned to the Raiders earlier this offseason only to be released again this month. Now in New England, he will compete for a roster spot behind locks Asiasi and Keene. Given his track record at the pro level so far, plus the fact that he joins the team relatively late in the process, Butler is expected to face an uphill battle to distinguish himself from the competition.

Butler is not the first free agent tight end the Patriots have expressed interest in this offseason. The team, which earlier this year lost veterans Benjamin Watson and Matt LaCosse to retirement and the Covid-19 opt-out, respectively, also had Alex Ellis in for a workout on Sunday and came close to signing Jordan Leggett last week.