The Patriots have reportedly agreed to terms on a one-year deal with former Arizona Cardinals tight end Troy Niklas. Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network first tweeted news of the acquisition via Twitter on Wednesday.
Niklas, 25, played the first four seasons of his career with the Cardinals after being drafted in the second round (52nd overall) in the 2014 draft out of Notre Dame. The 6-foot-7 tight end caught just 11 of 23 targets for 132 yards and one touchdown in 2017, and has made just 19 catches so far in 41 career games.
The addition of Niklas comes after the free-agent tight end visited New England on Monday, according to ESPN’s Field Yates. He later reported on Wednesday that the Patriots are also signing former Ravens and Jaguars offensive lineman Luke Bowanko, who has played both center and guard over his four-year career.
Niklas was billed as a good all-around tight end with potential as both a pass-catcher and blocker, which made him a relatively high draft pick for the position. Perhaps Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels, and others get the most out of him and unlock his potential. He’s certainly got size and athleticism and has never been in a better spot to produce.
The Patriots still have Dwayne Allen and Jacob Hollister on the depth chart at tight end behind Rob Gronkowski. Allen’s roster spot could be in danger; the Pats could save $5 million against the cap with no dead money by cutting him.
Niklas is far from a guarantee to contribute anything to the Patriots offense in 2018, but the former second-round pick does come with the upside for potentially big value.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.