Patriots

Patriots meeting with draft's top tight ends at the NFL Combine

Patriots meeting with draft's top tight ends at the NFL Combine

The New England Patriots have an uncertain future at the tight end position. Rob Gronkowski's future is murky and there have been some rumblings that he might retire. Considering these rumors and his injury history, it's hard to trust him moving forward.

Elsewhere, top backup Dwayne Allen has a $7.3 million cap hit in 2019, so he may need to restructure his contract if he wants to remain in New England.

With those major questions surrounding what has become a critical position in the Patriots offense, it's no surprise that the team is looking into some of the top tight ends at the 2019 NFL Combine.

According to NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry, the team has already met with or plans to meet with Noah Fant, Irv Smith Jr., Jace Sternberger, Kaden Smith, and Isaac Nauta at the combine. It's clear that the team is intent on scouting this tight end class heavily and may be interested in adding one early.

Of the group, Fant and Irv Smith Jr. stand out as potential first- or second-round options. Fant has scored 18 touchdowns over the course of the past two seasons despite playing with another potential first-round tight end prospect, T.J. Hockenson, and has previously been mocked to the Patriots in the first-round by NFL Network's Charley Casserly.

Meanwhile, Smith Jr. had a breakout year at Alabama playing with Tua Tagovailoa, catching 44 passes for 710 yards and seven touchdowns.

The tight ends will work out and do on-field drills on Saturday at the combine, along with the wide receivers and quarterbacks.

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Report: Patriots have had discussions with Vikings about Kyle Rudolph

Report: Patriots have had discussions with Vikings about Kyle Rudolph

As OTA's begin and we draw closer to mandatory minicamp, the Patriots have reportedly had discussions with the Vikings about a trade for tight end Kyle Rudolph. 

Rudolph is entering the final year of his contract with Minnesota and is due $7.625 million. He is unwilling to take a pay cut, so the Patriots would have to create space to execute a trade. The two-time Pro Bowl tight end caught 64 passes for 634 yards and four touchdowns in 2018. 

Since Rob Gronkowski's retirement, the Patriots have signed Austin Sefarian-Jenkins and Benjamin Watson to one-year contracts. They also signed Matt LaCosse to add depth to the position before Gronkowski retired. 

However, Rudolph is proven to be a far more productive tight end than all three of the players the Patriots brought in to replace Gronkowski. If the price tag for him is as low as Girardi suggests, Bill Belichick might want to think about creating cap space for Rudolph. Restructuring Tom Brady's $27 million cap figure could be a way to make the necessary space. 

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WATCH: First look at Patriots OTA's and new linebackers coach Jerod Mayo

WATCH: First look at Patriots OTA's and new linebackers coach Jerod Mayo

Monday marked the first day of Patriots OTA's, and the team's Twitter account posted a first look at players going through some drills along with new linebackers coach Jerod Mayo getting his first taste of NFL coaching experience. 

Mayo was brought on to Bill Belichick's staff in March after the position was vacated by now Dolphins head coach Brian Flores. Mayo spent all eight seasons of his playing career as a linebacker for the Patriots, earning two Pro-Bowl selections, a First-Team All-Pro selection in 2010 and the 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year award.

He was also a member of the Super Bowl 49-winning Patriots, who defeated the defending champion Seattle Seahawks thanks to an interception by Malcolm Butler in the closing moments of the game.

Mayo and the Patriots defense have a lot to live up to after a dominant performance against the Rams in Super Bowl 53. They will use the time in OTA's to get acclimated before mandatory minicamp starts on June 4. 

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