After six games, the New England Patriots have gotten minimal production out of the tight end and fullback position. Much of that is a result of injuries to both fullbacks James Develin (neck) and Jakob Johnson (shoulder) as well as a complete overhaul at the tight end position.
With the Patriots just releasing Ben Watson to relieve some cap space, there is a larger possibility that New England makes a trade at that position in the near future.
While there have been a few ideas tossed around for how to boost that position, the biggest rumor surrounding the Patriots in the market for a tight end concerns Cincinnati Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert.
As reported by Sam McKenzie of Cincy Jungle and Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports, both the Patriots and the New Orleans Saints are both interested in acquiring Eifert from the Bengals.
La Canfora also previously stated that he believes the Patriots will make a push for Eifert and/or Bengals wideout A.J. Green.
The trade, if completed, would fill a major need for New England and bring in a talented, dangerous tight end who can catch passes well and set blocks for running backs.
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Acquiring Eifert won’t be cheap for the Patriots, however, and could require New England to dispense one of its homegrown talents.
The leading rumblings currently include chatter involving the value of slot corner Jonathan Jones and a 2020 fifth-round pick for the injury-prone tight end. The price, though steep, would allow New England to bring in a player that, when healthy, could at least come close to duplicating the production someone like Rob Gronkowski would provide.
Jones, who went undrafted in 2017 out of Auburn, has transitioned from strictly a special teams role to become one of the league’s most effective slot corners. The Patriots have been happy with his development and even gave him a tender contract this season.
But after Jones gave up a big play for a touchdown on Thursday to Golden Tate, it might’ve been a sign to Bill Belichick that Jones can’t stick with top targets downfield. Given that he is a free agent after the season, New England may see Jones as expendable as they try to get maximum value.
Is Tyler Eifert Worth the Risk for Patriots?
Throughout his career, Eifert has been hampered by injuries that have limited his ability to even be on the field most of the time. Even at full health this season, he’s only caught 13 passes for 95 yards and a touchdown.
Over the last three seasons, Eifert had played in just 14 games nursing various back and leg injuries that kept him sidelined for long periods of time.
Now fully healthy, he isn’t actually contributing to a struggling Bengals offense in the way Cincinnati was hoping. Tight ends C.J. Uzomah and Drew Sample have started to push for more playing time with the former embracing a starting role as the primary replacement during Eifert’s time injured.
His salary is affordable for New England at $1 million even, and the Bengals’ biggest area of need is their secondary. In order to prevent Cincinnati from doing business with another contender, the Patriots may need to throw their best offer on the table in the form of Jones.
Don’t be surprised if Eifert’s final game as a Bengal comes on Sunday.