Bedard: After years of neglect, Patriots have to upgrade at TE to aid Cam Newton

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As we get closer to the NFL trade deadline on Nov. 3rd (NOT Oct. 29th), it's increasingly apparent the Patriots have to do something about the tight end position.

(Of course, this solidifies that Bill Belichick will ignore the position at the deadline, and Devin Asiasi will mount a late bid at Offensive Rookie Of The Year when he becomes unstoppable in the final six weeks of the season, but we'll push on...)

You could certainly make the argument about adding at defensive tackle, linebacker and receiver. But at least the Patriots have functional bodies at those positions at the moment.

They have nothing at tight end. We're not talking about having zero depth, which is usually important since we've been told for years by the Patriots that, "The NFL is a business about quality depth management." The Patriots have zero starters at the position at this moment.

This is the total sum of the Patriots' tight end personnel:

Ryan Izzo: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 44 yards in 4 games.
Devin Asiasi: 57 plays, 20 pass routes, 0 targets.
Dalton Keene: 4 games, 4 inactives, 2 healthy scratches, 2 questionables on injury report.

The Patriots are last in the league in targets to tight ends with seven, according to PFF), and the next-closest team has 13 (Panthers). The league average is 33. The Patriots have 21 percent of the average.

So, yes, unless Asiasi and Keene shortly become better than Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez were in their rookie seasons, the Patriots need to find some immediate help at the position.

My question now is why did the Patriots even let it get to this point, especially when Newton has traditionally relied on his tight ends?

It's not like something surprising happened. Even before Gronkowski retired in 2019,