4 Tight Ends the Patriots Can Target in 2020 Offseason
By Max Staley
Tom Brady's uncertain future has grabbed most of the headlines, but this New England Patriots' offense has holes all throughout the lineup. Arguably, the most glaring of which, is the tight end position, as New England couldn't find a suitable replacement for future Hall-of-Famer Rob Gronkowski.
Fortunately, there should be no shortage of tight end talent available in the 2020 offseason. Whether it's through the NFL Draft, free agency or via trade, here are four tight ends the Patriots can look to add in the 2020 offseason.
1. Trade for O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Entering the season, O.J. Howard looked poised to have a breakout campaign. And it's not hard to see why. In 2018, Howard averaged the ninth-most yards per reception in the NFL (16.6), also the best mark among all tight ends, and he was on a 16-game pace for a 904-yard, eight-TD season, though injuries limited him to 10 games. However, 2019 was a completely different story. Howard was inexplicably phased out of the offense, seeing just 53 targets in 14 games played, only the fifth most among all Tampa Bay Buccaneers. There were trade rumors surrounding Howard at the deadline, and perhaps a change of scenery would do the Alabama product some good, as his contract is set to expire at the end of the season. His injury history and down season make him a bit of a gamble, but he's the most talented tight end New England has a reasonable chance at acquiring this offseason.
2. Sign Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
Another risky investment, Hunter Henry is one of the best tight ends in football when healthy, but the young star's career has been derailed by injuries. Henry has missed 23-of-64 games across his four-year career, though 2019 was certainly encouraging. After going down in Week 1, Henry made his return in Week 6 and was on a 16-game pace to rack up 74 catches for 861 receiving yards and seven TDs over the final 11 games of the year. Henry excels as a pass-catcher and a blocker, and he'd likely be a perfect fit with Tom Brady – provided he can stay on the field.
3. Sign Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
Austin Hooper was one of the breakout stars of the 2019 season. He never had more than 660 receiving yards across the first three years of his career, but he was fantastic this season, hauling in 75 receptions for 787 receiving yards and six TDs in 13 games played. He's not without injury concerns himself, having missed at least two games in two of his four professional seasons, but his injury history isn't nearly as concerning as Howard or Henry's. To be fair, he likely doesn't have the same ceiling as those players, either.
4. Draft Albert Okwuegbunam, Missouri Tigers
The Patriots are currently No. 19 in terms of 2020 cap space, so while they will likely have the cap space to make a move at tight end, New England could also look toward the 2020 NFL Draft. Right now, Albert Okwuegbunam seems to be the consensus No. 1 tight end in the class. The 6-foot-5-inch, 255-pound TE has the body and athletic ability to be a matchup nightmare at the next level, though tight ends have notoriously struggled to contribute in their first NFL season. If New England misses out on the top-tier free agents, though, Okwuegbunam could be a fantastic consolation prize in the draft.
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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.