So much for Michael Roberts helping the New England Patriots with their tight end situation. The third-year pro was acquired from the Detroit Lions on Thursday in exchange for a 2020 conditional seventh-round draft pick.
But NFL trades are conditional as well — and as the Lions cryptically announced Friday, “Roberts reverted back to the team’s roster, per trade conditions.”
As reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Roberts failed a physical with the Patriots following the deal. That’s an important condition! If it wasn’t already clear that the Lions didn’t want Roberts after trading him, the team subsequently waived Roberts upon having to take him back. That’s a pretty rough 36 hours for the guy.
What exactly caused Roberts to fail his physical with the Patriots isn’t clear, but he did have shoulder surgery last December so it seems likely that’s where the issue lies. Roberts, 25, played in only eight games with Detroit last season because of that shoulder. He compiled only nine receptions for 100 yards.
Follow the Heavy New England Patriots page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
However, three of those catches were for touchdowns, providing a reminder of Roberts’ potential as a big red zone target. (He’s listed at 6-foot-5 and 265 pounds.) During his senior year at Toledo, Roberts caught an eye-opening 16 touchdowns among his 45 receptions and 533 yards. He appeared to be a good value pick for the Lions in the fourth round of the 2017 draft.
Yet despite his size, Roberts never developed into the blocker that the Lions projected. The emphasis on that part of his game may have hurt him as a receiver too.
So the Patriots will continue looking for more help in replacing Rob Gronkowski. Since Roberts is now available on waivers, it’s possible that New England could sign him and still give him a shot at making the roster. But the other 31 NFL teams would have to pass on him and if Roberts failed a physical with the Patriots, he might not meet another club’s medical standards either. However, It’s worth noting that he participated in OTAs with no reported problems.
Perhaps New England will also take this as a sign to see how Matt LaCosse and Stephen Anderson develop in training camp as a possible tight end combination. Additionally, the Patriots will get Ben Watson back after he serves a four-game PED suspension. Austin Seferian-Jenkins could also return after the one-month personal leave he requested. We’ll see if he’s welcomed back to Foxborough in late July when the Patriots begin training camp.
And there’s still the possibility that Gronkowski could return — something many Patriots coaches and executives expect to happen once the regular season is underway.