By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Patriots are signing veteran free-agent tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins to a one-year deal. ESPN’s Field Yates first reported the signing on Twitter.
Jenkins played just five games for the Jacksonville Jaguars last season before going on injured reserve with a core injury. he caught 11 passes for 90 yards and a touchdown prior to that. Seferian-Jenkins has struggled with various injuries throughout his NFL career.
His most productive, healthy season came in 2017 with the New York Jets, in which he caught 50 passes for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns in 13 games (10 starts).
Seferian-Jenkins joins a Patriots tight end depth chart that also includes Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo, fellow free-agent addition Matt LaCosse, and Stephen Anderson. As the most experienced tight end on the roster, he vaults to the top of the list. He has a good chance to be a factor in the passing game as a red zone target, an area where the Patriots’ receivers and tight ends struggled in 2018.
If a true reset is on the way at the tight end position for the Patriots, then the Seferian-Jenkins signing won’t necessarily stop the Patriots from selecting at least one more in the 2019 NFL Draft. They’ve been active scouting and meeting with top TE prospects, including Alabama’s Irv Smith Jr. and Texas A&M’s Jace Sternberger.
Ultimately, Seferian-Jenkins could be akin to former tight end Alge Crumpler, who signed a two-year deal with the Patriots in 2010. Though not productive as a Patriot (6 catches in 10 games), Crumpler provided veteran insurance and a bridge to the Rob Gronkowski era in the latter’s rookie season.
If I were to make an educated guess, I’d say the Pats are still going to draft a tight end relatively high when the draft takes place April 25-27.
Update: According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network, Seferian-Jenkins is getting only $50,000 guaranteed via signing bonus with another $40,000 in bonuses available later in the season. This means he’s no guarantee to make the 53-man roster. It’s the definition of a One-Year Prove It Deal™. But Seferian-Jenkins has never really lacked talent or physical gifts to succeed in the NFL. Staying healthy will be his top priority. And if he does, he’ll have a good chance to cash in next offseason as many low-risk Patriots signings do.
Update: Seferian-Jenkins confirmed via Instagram that he’s signing with the Patriots.
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 email@example.com.