The Patriots Tight End options look questionable

Bill Belichick (AP photo)The New England Patriots have released their star tight-end Aaron Hernandez. This move by the Patriots came less than two hours after Hernandez was taken away from his home in handcuffs Wednesday morning by the Attleborough Police Department. With a fluid situation involving homicide and Hernandez, the Patriots are now faced with several crises.

There’s a lot going on in the off-season for the Patriots organization. Patriot’s tight-end Rob Gronkowski has had several surgeries and healing issues with his broken left forearm. There is also the issue of Grownkowski’s back surgery which will put him off the field for a significant part of the season. This will then leave Patriots head coach Bill Belichick with void at the tight-end position. There may be a few possible options.

One would be for Belichick to change up his two tight ends offense. This may spell trouble for their most valuable player and future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. In the last two years Brady has been sacked 59 times with only eight fumbles. The Patriots offense may struggle without an additional big target option for a quick pass. Lacking this dual threat and option, a single tight end set could lead to even more sacks for Brady. To add to the difficult situation, Brady’s favorite target, Wes Welker, is now with the Denver Broncos after unpleasant negotiations with the Patriots organization. All of this means someone else will have to step in and contribute as a slot receiver. This may be easier said than done when it comes to coach Belichick and his low tolerance for receivers dropping passes.

The second option is to keep the current dual tight end threat and find players that are capable of learning Belichick’s coach offense. Whoever gets a shot to start needs to understand the rapid pace and no huddle offense that New England loves to run. There’s a void that could be filled by three remaining Tight ends on the Pats roster, Jake Ballard, Daniel Fells, and Michael Hoomanawanui.

Ballard has fought through ankle and knee injuries since Super Bowl XLVI. He has seen very little action since. This will definitely change with the release of Hernandez and the injuries to Gronkowski. Another opportunity may become available for Daniel Fells who only had four receptions for 85 yards last season. Michael Hoomanawanui will have to contribute also only having five receptions for 109 yards. While all of these tight ends show promise, there were no touchdowns by any of the three.

With veterans training camp starting on July 25th at Foxboro Stadium, the Patriots will be under the spotlight feeling the heat and doing some damage control. The media will have all kinds of questions for coach Belichick and the Patriots. Will the reporters get the answers they are looking for? No one knows. This I know for sure, the New England Patriots will be tested this upcoming season like never before…off the field and on.

Will the New England Patriots overcome the loss of Hernandez and Grownkowski?

  • Yes, They will bounce back like they always do. (75%, 15 Votes)
  • No, Not a chance after losing Hernandez and Grownkowski. (25%, 5 Votes)

Total Voters: 20

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  • Tim Stephenson

    Nice read Sammie,

    One other guy to keep an eye on is Zach Sudfeld, an undrafted rookie free agent from the University of Nevada. He’s a 6’7 255lb athlete at tight end that has been pretty impressive at OTA’s this year. A long shot when he was signed after the draft, but now given the Hernandez and Gronkowski situations, he may very well make the final 53 man roster.