By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots may be dipping into the trade market ahead of next Tuesday’s trade deadline, but there’s also a chance they turn to free agency. Former Raiders safety Obi Melifonwu is the latest notable free agent to come on their radar.
As reported first by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Patriots are bringing in Melifonwu for a visit on Friday. A former second-round pick in 2017, Melifonwu hasn’t played since Week 14 of the 2017 season.
The former UConn Huskies defensive back dealt with both knee and hip injuries in his rookie year, and his injury issues spilled over into 2018. The Raiders ultimately waived him with the hope that he’d get claimed, then placed him on injured reserve after he cleared waivers. They waived him off IR on Tuesday.
Bill Belichick showed interest in Melifonwu ahead of the 2017 draft. The Patriots reportedly met with him in Connecticut ahead of the draft, where he ultimately went to the Raiders with the 56th pick. As it turns out, the Patriots didn’t make a selection in that draft until Derek Rivers at No. 83.
Malifonwu is a big, athletic safety who stands at 6-foot-3 and 224 pounds. His biggest issue by far is staying healthy. But if he can, the 24-year-old certainly still has a chance to be a legitimate NFL safety. The Patriots might be interested in his potential for covering tight ends, which has been a real issue for the safeties on the roster this season.
Either way, their interest in Melifonwu suggests that the Patriots are in the market for a safety or linebacker/safety hybrid-type player ahead of the trade deadline.
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.
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