American Football

Patriots express interest in veteran tight ends ahead of NFL Draft


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New England invited three free agents on a tryout basis.

While quarterback, offensive tackle and wide receiver are bigger needs for the New England Patriots heading into the 2024 NFL Draft, they also have potential to upgrade their tight end group. At the moment, Hunter Henry, Austin Hooper and La’Michael Pettway make up the entirety of the position depth chart.

The Patriots could look for some developmental options in the draft, but they are also exploring the veteran market. In fact, they recently had three veterans in town for tryouts: as first reported by Howard Balzer of Cards Wire, Brycen Hopkins, Sean McKeon and Mitchell Wilcox worked out for the team.

Hopkins is the most notable of the three players. A fourth-round draft pick out of Purdue in 2020, he appeared in a combined 43 regular season and playoff games for the Los Angeles Rams over the last four seasons.

The 27-year-old, who primarily served as a backup option in both the passing and running games, caught 17 passes for 243 yards. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder has remained unsigned since his rookie contract expired in March.

McKeon and Wilcox, meanwhile, started their careers as undrafted free agents.

McKeon spent his first four years in the NFL as a member of the Dallas Cowboys, moving between the active roster and practice squad. In total, he played 45 games for the organization and caught six passes for 38 yards and one touchdown.

Wilcox, who entered the league one year after Hopkins and McKeon, was a member of the Cincinnati Bengals between 2021 and 2023. As such, he saw action in 55 total contests as a rotational tight end option and has 31 receptions for 230 yards and one score to his name.

Earlier this offseason, the Patriots signed the aforementioned Hunter Henry to a three-year, $27 million contract extension. They also signed Austin Hooper on a one-year free agency deal. In addition, they lost Mike Gesicki and Pharaoh Brown to Cincinnati and Seattle, respectively, after they had both appeared in 17 games for the club in 2023.

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