The Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots are in two different situations with regards to the tight end position.
The Patriots tried to improve their tight end situation by acquiring Eric Saubert from Atlanta via trade in exchange for a conditional seventh-round draft pick Monday. Saubert caught five passes for 48 yards and zero touchdowns for the Falcons in 2018.
Falcons head coach Dan Quinn explained to reporters following the trade about what made the deal possible from Atlanta's perspective.
The Falcons have plenty of tight end depth and a clear No. 1 player atop their positional chart in Austin Hooper, who tallied 71 receptions for 660 yards and four touchdowns last season. Backup tight end Luke Stocker signed a two-year contract with the Falcons in March and was Pro Football Focus' highest-graded tight end in the AFC South division last season.
The Patriots, meanwhile, lack quality depth at tight end and and don't yet have a suitable replacement(s) for the recently retired Rob Gronkowski. New England signed veteran tight end Benjamin Watson in May, but he's suspended for the first four games of the 2019 regular season due to a failed drug test. Matt LaCosse entered training camp as the leading candidate to be the No. 1 tight end for Week 1, but he suffered an apparent leg injury in the first preseason game against the Detroit Lions and didn't practice Monday.
Tight end could be one of the biggest weaknesses for the Pats in 2019 after it was a huge strength for the franchise over the last decade. The dropoff from Gronkowski to New England's current group of tight ends is pretty steep.
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