While receiver is likely the biggest need the Patriots have on offense, the tight-end position must be addressed for the future.
In the off-season of 2021, the Patriots had a massive free agency haul signing players like Matthew Judon, Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, Kendrick Bourne, and Nelson Agholor. Two of the signings that generated a lot of expectations were Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith since tight-end production was a disaster for New England. Ever since Rob Gronkowski retired, New England has never filled their tight end role, and they must secure their future at the position.
Long-Term Future At The Position
Firstly out of the two tight-end signings Hunter Henry has been the best one. Henry signed a three-year $37,500,000 deal. Henry received 603 yards and nine touchdowns as a rookie quarterback in 2021. In 2022, with an inexperienced offensive coordinator in Matt Patricia, Henry saw his production decrease slightly with 509 yards and two touchdowns.
While Henry has been very solid for New England, and can likely be more productive with an experienced offensive coordinator, he is a free agent in the off-season, and it’s unclear if New England is willing to spend money to get him back.
The other tight end the Patriots splurged on is Jonnu Smith. Jonnu Smith was electric after the catch, and versatile in Tennessee. Smith signed a four-year $50,000,000 deal. In two seasons, Jonnu Smith has received 539 yards and one touchdown. Smith has not been able to contribute to New England and was traded to the Falcons for a late pick.
With Smith departing and Henry on the last year of his deal, it would make sense for New England to take a tight end in the draft, or try to sign one in free agency. Here are two potential tight ends for the Patriots.
Mike Gesicki has been a very solid producer for most of his career. Notably in 2020-2021 where Gesicki received a combined 1483 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2022, the Dolphins acquired a new coach in Mike McDaniel, and traded for Tyreek Hill. In a scheme that focused heavily on Tyreek Hill and then Jaylen Waddle, Gesicki didn’t see much opportunity. With his role diminished, Gesicki will likely find another suitor in Free Agency. Gesicki could be a solid, not-too-expensive producer for the Patriots who can fill the void at tight end. Gesicki’s range might be around 10 million, but he’s one of the best in the class.
Dalton Shultz is another very solid contributor on offense. With Dallas having a very high-powered offense, Shultz thrived in his role. In 2021 Shultz broke out with 808 yards and eight touchdowns. In 2022, nagging injuries kept up with Shultz and limited him to 577 yards and five touchdowns. These last few years have shown that Shultz is a very productive tight end if given the opportunity. Shultz might be around the 10 to 13 million range, which New England can afford.
Shultz has thrived in the middle of the field and is an excellent threat in the goal line. The Patriots need both of those things from a tight end. Shultz also played in a scheme that was run-heavy, and with receivers like Amari Cooper and Ceedee Lamb who hindered his opportunity. Shultz is a good secondary producer and the Patriots should make a push in trying to sign him.
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