New England Patriots

  • Former Patriots tight end Devin Asiasi has a big opportunity in front of him.

    Asiasi has landed in one of the best places he could’ve ended up, if he likes having a good quarterback and Super Bowl aspirations. He was claimed off waivers this week by the defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals, as confirmed in the NFL’s transaction wire Wednesday.

    That officially concludes his time in New England, where he would’ve been a prime candidate to join the practice squad had he cleared waivers. The Patriots signed two other tight ends they had at camp to the practice squad, Matt Sokol and Jalen Wydermyer.

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  • The Patriots decided after just one season, essentially, that Asiasi would not be in their long-term plans when they signed Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith for a combined $56.25 million guaranteed. But he was still the Next Man Up™ after those two in training camp, taking Henry’s place for a brief time due to injury.

    Asiasi may be on the Bengals’ 53-man roster, but he’ll have competition for snaps as they look to replace the production of C.J. Ozumah, who left to sign with the Jets. Cincy already has free-agent addition Hayden Hurst and 2019 second-round pick Drew Sample on the depth chart. But Hurst is on his third team in five seasons, while Sample has yet to catch on as a receiver.

    Beyond that, the problem for Asiasi – all the Bengals’ tight ends, anyway – is they’re likely to favor “11” personnel (one tight end, three wide receivers), and throw to the wideouts much more than the tight ends. They ran 77 percent of snaps in 11 personnel last season, according to FootballGuys.com. They targeted tight ends only 83 times in 2021, compared to 359 targets for receivers and 98 for running backs, according to Pro Football Reference.

  • Meanwhile, the Patriots are expected to run much more “12” personnel (two tight ends) than the Bengals in 2022, and find ways to utilize Henry and Smith in the play-action passing game. If Asiasi were able to stay in New England, he possibly could’ve had a better shot at contributing there than in Cincinnati.

    But the Bengals are coming off a Super Bowl berth, with Joe Burrow already having emerged as a franchise quarterback and MVP candidate. So, for now, they should be considered a better chance for Asiasi to win. Which seems crazy to say, considering how most of the 21st century has gone for the two teams.

  • Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @realmattdolloff. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.